What is FIP?
Feline infectious peritonitis is a mutation of coronavirus (FoCV)in domestic pets. This type of virus is different from the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 in people.
Feline coronavirus is very common and doesn’t cause serious problems. Mostly cats will develop a mild diarrhea and symptoms that are similar to cold. When the virus mutates it becomes FIP, which is serious and almost always fatal.
It is still unclear how the mutation occurs but some factors contributing to its development include age, breed or family predisposition, immune status, infection with immunocompromising viruses such as FeLV or FIV, stress and surgery.
What are FIP symptoms?
Some of FIP symptoms include loss of appetite, lethargy, fever that won’t lower with the prescription of antibiotics. These are common in dry FIP. Accumulation of liquid around the stomach or inside chest cavity are associated with wet FIP. Inflammation affecting eyes, brain, liver, kidney and other parts of the body indicate a neuro form.
Is FIP contagious?
While cats, especially if living in the same household, can get infected with FoCV, FIP is not contagious.
The transmission of Coronavirus is usually oronasal, through exposure to the feces of a cat shedding the virus in the same household.However, the mutated FIP-causing FCoV has not been found in the secretions or excretions of cats with FIP.
How can FIP be diagnosed?
As most of the symptoms are nonspecific is very difficult to have a positive diagnosis at the first examination. Most of veterinarians go by exclusion. These are the symptoms to look for:
- Loss of appetite
- Behavioral changes as hiding, sleeping, not interested in playing
- Excessive thirst and urination
- Fever that won’t resolve with antibiotics (the normal body temperature range for cats is between 100.5°F and 102.5°F (38.1°C and 39.2°C).
- Diarrhea or constipation Vomiting episodes
- Decreased albumin, increased globulin
- The albumin globulin ratio will appear below 0.6
In wet FIP where abdominal accumulation of fluids occurs your veterinary can perform the Rivalta Test. This is very inexpensive method, where your vet will remove some fluid with a syringe from your cats belly. A tick and yellow liquid will indicate the presence of FIP.
Is there a treatment available?
FIP it is a challenging disease to treat, most of the veterinarians will suggest euthanasia as the cat will deteriorate very fast once the first symptoms are observed.
Mostly the supportive care will only treat momentarily the symptoms and give relief for a short time.
However, recent research by Professor Niels Pedersen of University of California, Davis, has shown that some newer antiviral drugs such as GS-5734, used in humans against some emerging viruses, may be effective.
Where to seek more informations
Below is a list of useful resources that can help you understand better if your loved feline was recently diagnosed with FIP: