Deadly cat coronavirus found for first time in the UK
Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), also known as feline coronavirus, started spreading through Cyprus in January.
This deadly virus is a recombination of a feline coronavirus and a canine coronavirus and is called F-CoV-23.
Professor Danielle Gunn-Moore from Edinburgh University has spent more than two decades researching the illness and, speaking to Sky News, described the virus as “particularly nasty”.
The deadly mutation of the virus can be fatal to cats if left untreated and can cause symptoms including seizures and breathing issues.
First case of feline coronavirus found in the UK
The first case of the deadly FIP has been reported in the UK, according to Sky News.
The news outlet reported: “The cat was brought to the UK from Cyprus and was taken to the vet after developing symptoms.
“The cat is in quarantine so it can’t go outside and is now being treated with a high dose of anti-virals.”
Professor Gunn-Moore, speaking to Sky News, added it’s likely this isn’t the first case to reach the country and there were “major concerns” the virus could spread in the UK.
What are the symptoms of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) for cat owners to look out for?
There are a number of symptoms to look out for in your cat that my be signs of FIP, according to Sky News.
Symptoms of FIP include:
- Distended belly
- Breathing issues
- Fluid around the lungs
- Not eating
Professor Gunn-Moore warned cat owners in the UK to be extra-vigilant following the recent report of the deadly virus.
She added: “If they see the cat becoming depressed or swollen belly or wobbly back end, seizures, anything like that – just a cat that’s not feeling well – go to your vet quickly and say you’re worried about F-CoV-23.”
If the vet does diagnose FIP, they should contact the Royal School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh which will test the virus to see if it is the standard strain or F-CoV-23.
The virus is mostly spread via an infected cat’s faeces.
If your cat may come into contact with a cat that’s got a connection to Cyprus – a neighbour’s cat, for example, or other animals at a cattery – you should be extra vigilant.
Is the feline coronavirus treatable?
There are two anti-viral COVID-19 drugs that are used to treat FIP and are licensed for use in the UK.
Professor Gunn-Moore said: “While they are expensive, they are effective at treating the illness – and seem to work well on the new strain.”
Infected cats in Cyprus started receiving a human COVID-19 treatment in August, reported Sky News, which Professor Gunn-Moore said had been “effective” in treating the illness.