Diagnosing Feline Peritonitis (FIP) requires a veterinary test that can detect antibodies to the widespread Feline Coronavirus (FCoV). FASTest FIP, FASTest CoV Strip and FASTest RIVALTA FIP-VETube help provide a vital early warning of the possible presence of the FIP mutant strain.
Weight loss and lethargy, fever, a fluid-filled chest or abdominal cavity and a laboured struggle for breath. Symptoms that would see any cat owner phoning for the vet are all indications of possible Feline Peritonitis (FIP).
Perhaps the most characteristic symptom of feline peritonitis infection is the distended, fluid-filled abdomen manifestation of its ‘wet’ or effusive form. In its ‘dry’ form, outward symptoms, depending on the organs most affected, might include excessive thirst and urination (kidneys), jaundice (liver) and neurological disorders.
Yet the particular strain of virus that causes FIP is understood not to be infectious between cats. Rather it is a pathogenic mutation, that occurs within an infected cat, of a relatively harmless and widespread virus.
Infection rates can be as high as 100% in colonies and multi-cat households
FIP is a mutant strain of the Feline Coronavirus (FCoV). Feline Coronavirus is most common where many cats live closely together such as in catteries, cat rescue centres, multi-cat households and semi-wild city colonies. Where a large number of cats are kept together, the infection rate can be as high as 100%.
The symptoms of FCoV infection are generally limited to intestinal disorders such as diarrhoea. The virus multiplies itself in the digestive tract of infected animals, quickly invading the cattery, household or colony via the cat’s faeces.
Potentially fatal FIP symptoms arise when the coronavirus spontaneously mutates into the virulent stain known as Feline Infectious Peritonitis Virus (FIPV). FIPV invades and destroys key components of the immune system contributing to a death rate of up to 95% of infected cats.
Overcrowding and poor hygiene are the main drivers behind the spread of coronavirus
There is currently no test to distinguish between FIPV and FCoV. However, clinical symptoms, individual circumstances and the results of veterinary tests for antibodies indicating exposure to FCoV provide essential diagnostic evidence. Distinguishing ‘wet’ form FIP from other effusive conditions can also help and is made simple and reliable with FASTest RIVALTA-VETube.
Overcrowding and poor hygiene are the main drivers behind the spread of coronavirus. The stress imposed on cats living under these conditions seems to influence the mutation of FCoV into its FIPV form. As with so many infectious diseases of animals, prevention best effected with by the combined forces of good hygiene, constant vigilance and veterinary diagnostic testing.