Risk of feline infectious peritonitis in cats naturally infected with feline coronavirus

Diane D. Addie From the Department of Veterinary Pathology, University of Glasgow, Bearsden Rd, Glasgow G61 1QH (Addie, Toth, Jarrett), and the Robertson Centre for Biostatistics, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ (Murray), United Kingdom.

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 PhD, BVMS
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Sarah Toth From the Department of Veterinary Pathology, University of Glasgow, Bearsden Rd, Glasgow G61 1QH (Addie, Toth, Jarrett), and the Robertson Centre for Biostatistics, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ (Murray), United Kingdom.

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 PhD, DVM
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Gordon D. Murray From the Department of Veterinary Pathology, University of Glasgow, Bearsden Rd, Glasgow G61 1QH (Addie, Toth, Jarrett), and the Robertson Centre for Biostatistics, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ (Murray), United Kingdom.

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 PhD, MA
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Oswald Jarrett From the Department of Veterinary Pathology, University of Glasgow, Bearsden Rd, Glasgow G61 1QH (Addie, Toth, Jarrett), and the Robertson Centre for Biostatistics, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ (Murray), United Kingdom.

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 FRSE, PhD, BVMS

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SUMMARY

A longitudinal survey of 820 cats in 73 households was conducted over a period of 6 years to establish the fate of pet cats that were seropositive after natural exposure to feline coronavirus (FCoV). In particular, their risk of developing feline infectious peritonitis (fip) was determined. The seropositive cats were assigned to 1 of 3 groups: cats from households in which fip had recently been diagnosed; cats from households in which fip had not been diagnosed, but from which kittens had been relocated and subsequently died of fip; and cats from households in which fip had not been diagnosed. Cats in the first group were not at greater risk of developing fip than were cats in the other 2 groups. Consequently, any household in which seropositive cats live must be considered a potential source of FCoV that can cause fip. There was no evidence that the enhanced disease, which has been described after experimentally induced infection of seropositive cats, exists in nature. Thus, analysis of the survival of the seropositive cats over periods of up to 36 months indicated that their risk of developing fip decreased with time, suggesting the development of immunity rather than increased susceptibility to disease. In addition, of 56 cats deemed to have been naturally reinfected because their anti- FCoV antibody titers decreased and subsequently increased, only 3 developed fip.

SUMMARY

A longitudinal survey of 820 cats in 73 households was conducted over a period of 6 years to establish the fate of pet cats that were seropositive after natural exposure to feline coronavirus (FCoV). In particular, their risk of developing feline infectious peritonitis (fip) was determined. The seropositive cats were assigned to 1 of 3 groups: cats from households in which fip had recently been diagnosed; cats from households in which fip had not been diagnosed, but from which kittens had been relocated and subsequently died of fip; and cats from households in which fip had not been diagnosed. Cats in the first group were not at greater risk of developing fip than were cats in the other 2 groups. Consequently, any household in which seropositive cats live must be considered a potential source of FCoV that can cause fip. There was no evidence that the enhanced disease, which has been described after experimentally induced infection of seropositive cats, exists in nature. Thus, analysis of the survival of the seropositive cats over periods of up to 36 months indicated that their risk of developing fip decreased with time, suggesting the development of immunity rather than increased susceptibility to disease. In addition, of 56 cats deemed to have been naturally reinfected because their anti- FCoV antibody titers decreased and subsequently increased, only 3 developed fip.

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