Video: Feline Coronavirus
Diseases of cats are always a hot topic among lovers of these animals, especially when we are powerless to help our pets.
Therefore, I would like to touch upon the problem of one terrible disease caused by a specific virus, which our breeders and veterinarians have hardly encountered before, but which, in connection with the emergence of pedigree cat catteries in our country, is very important. These are the so-called coronavirus infections.
Coronavirus is a spherical particle with a diameter of about 100 mm (0.001 millimeter), relatively complex in structure, possessing a protein-lipid membrane with large clavate projections ("crown"). The genome of the virus is a single-heavy sense (+) RNA with a molecular weight (6-8 million).
Coronaviruses are common (often fatal) pathogens in animals. In cats, there are two known clinical manifestations of the disease caused by these viruses: feline coronavirus enteritis and feline infectious peritonitis. The feline enteric coronavirus (FECV) and the feline infectious peritonitis virus (FIPV) are now found to be closely related strains of the same virus. They are harmless to humans.
FECV primarily affects the cells of the lining of the feline small intestine and causes diarrhea (diarrhea). Kittens are especially susceptible to the virus at the age of one to two months. The disease usually begins with vomiting, and then turns into diarrhea, which lasts 2-4 days, after which there is a recovery. However, animals remain carriers of the virus for a long time, which is excreted in feces and easily infects other kittens if they use the same toilet. Although this is a very common and frequent disease of kittens, it is not so dangerous as to attract much attention.
Infectious peritonitis (FIP) occurs unexpectedly in kittens and young animals. In contrast to the above-described coronavirus infection, this disease almost inevitably ends in death. The virus infects macrophages (white blood cells), destroying them and thus opening the way for infection in tissues. Most often, the disease is noticed by a progressively swollen belly, against the background of an increased body temperature. This is the so-called wet form of FIP (dropsy). But there is (much less often) a dry form, when there are no external signs, and only fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss are observed. The disease has become one of the most serious problems in US nurseries in recent years. Diagnosis is by abdominal puncture- with infectious peritonitis of cats, it is cloudy with white flakes. The more numerous and crowded the nursery, the more cases of FIP. And you can't save sick animals. A definite effect in the treatment of feline infectious peritonitis occurs with the systematic removal of exudate from the abdominal cavity, the appointment of diuretics, hormones and broad-spectrum antibiotics intraperitoneally. A vaccine against feline viral infectious peritonitis has not yet been developed. Moreover, even an early diagnosis cannot be made in order to isolate a sick animal; completely healthy animals can also give positive immunological tests for the virus if they are carriers of a relatively harmless FECV, which is not immunologically different from FIPV.
A cat with infectious peritonitis (the swollen abdomen is clearly visible in the animal)
Intensive studies conducted recently in the United States on the problem of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) have shown the following. Factors that increase the risk of FIP;
- joint keeping of a large number of animals;
- young animals, especially kittens up to 4 months old;
- poor care and nutrition;
- high level of stress in the nursery;
- exchange of animals, especially kittens;
- external contacts: mating, transportation, exhibitions;
- genetic predisposition.
It is important to note that coronaviruses spread from one animal to another mainly through feces. Salivary transmission is also possible, although apparently to a much lesser extent. Airborne spread of the virus was deemed unlikely. However, FIPV multiplies and exists in blood cells, not in the intestine, and therefore is not excreted in feces (or even saliva)! In other words, FIPV is not likely to be transmitted from animal to animal, i.e. not contagious in the usual sense of the word. Where does this terrible disease come from?According to the latest data, the disease (FIP) is caused by infection with the enteritis coronavirus (FECV), which mutates into a form that affects blood cells. It is the enteritis coronavirus, i.e. FECV, not FIPV, is contagious and spreads from animal to animal through feces. Therefore , wherever there is a coronavirus infection, FIP can occur.
The main practical conclusion from these observations is the identification of means to reduce the risk of infection with coronavirus enteritis in animals in the nursery. Some of the recommendations of American scientists and veterinarians are as follows:
- monitor the litter box of cats, change more often and disinfect from time to time, provide at least one litter box for two cats!
- there should be no more than 8-10 animals in the house;
- a mother with kittens up to three months old should be isolated from other animals;
- any newly arrived animal must be isolated for at least one month;
- in the case of a high titer of coronavirus in a mother cat (or suspicion of a cat being infected with a coronavirus), it is recommended to feed kittens early without a mother (starting from 4-6 weeks) and isolate these kittens from other animals until they are sold. It is noted that people are unlikely to be carriers of the coronavirus, so visitors should not be afraid.
Academician A. S. Spirin, "Friend" magazine (cats)