What is Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)?
Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) is a fatal viral disease caused by a strain of virus known as Feline Coronavirus (FCoV).
FCoV infection is a common disease and causes little to no signs (mostly mild diarrhoea). Most cats (around 95%) that are infected with FCOV will resolve and recover with proper care and supportive treatment. Unforetunately, when FCOV mutates into FIP, the disease becomes very fatal to the cats and FIP cats will face a mortality rate of 96% if not being treated.
Is FIP contagious?
FIP virus that is fatal and causes the disease is not contagious to other cats.
On the other hand, FCoV (the source of FIP) is highly contagious. FCoV lives in the intestinal tract of the cat and is shed in the feces of the infected cats. Other cats can become infected with FCoV if they are exposed to materials that are contaminated with FCOV infected feces.
Forms of FIP
The wet form of FIP results in fluid accumulation in body cavities such as the abdomen and chest. It causes abdominal distension and/or difficulty breathing. This fluid is often a yellow color.
In the dry form of FIP, inflamed lesions are found throughout the cat’s body, including the eyes, kidneys, liver, and nervous system. Symptoms depend on which organ is most affected by disease.
Common Signs & Symptoms of FIP
There are no symptoms unique to FIP. However, in either form of FIP, cats commonly show vague symptoms such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Intermittent fever that is not responsive to antibiotics
Diagnosis for FIP
Currently, there is no definitive test to screen cats for FIP. To diagnose FIP in a sick cat, veterinarians must carry out several diagnostic tests including a physical examination, full panel blood test, test for history of FCOV infection, Rivalta test and many more.
Treatment for FIP
There have been significant recent developments in the management of this once fatal condition. Recent research by Professor Niels Pedersen of University of California, Davis, has shown that antiviral drugs such as GC-376 and GS-441524 are effective in treating FIP in cats.
GS-441524 primes among all antiviral drugs and becomes the most well studied and effective FIP treatment with a positive response rate of around 89%. Nonetheless, the treatment remains expensive and requires a long course of treatment (84 days).