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Pathogen Profile – Feline Coronavirus (FCoV)

Feline Coronavirus (FCoV) is an enveloped virus that causes Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), a viral disease that affects cats globally. Generally, FIP is reported at around 1% of the feline population, but in outbreak situations, a 40-50% prevalence of FIP has been reported.¹ In early 2023, veterinarians in Cyprus shared their concern as cases of FIP increased rapidly and by July, they estimated that 8,000 cats had died from the outbreak.²  The outbreak of FIP in Cyprus spread quickly, including to indoor cats, which suggests this new strain of Feline Coronavirus (named FCoV-23) is highly-virulent.³

Virus characteristics

FIP is caused by Feline Coronavirus (FCoV), an enveloped virus, which belongs to the same family as canine coronaviruses. Unlike the human coronavirus which puts older human adults at a higher risk, FIP affects young felines, mainly kittens and cats under 2 years of age.⁴ The first case of FCoV-23 has now been confirmed in the UK, in a cat that had been imported from Cyprus.

Not every cat infected with FCoV will develop the FIP disease. However, in most cases, FIP is fatal if left untreated, therefore infected cats must receive treatment at the earliest opportunity.

In the early stages of FIP, general signs of ill health may show such as listlessness, reduced appetite, weight loss, and fever. Later in the disease symptoms may include a swollen belly, difficulty breathing, or nervous system signs such as wobbly walking, twitching, collapsing, or seizures.

What Does This News Mean for Pet Owners?

British Veterinary Association President Anna Judson said: “The arrival of FCoV-23 in the UK is highly concerning, but so far this looks to be an isolated case in an imported cat, and action has been taken to minimise any spread of the virus. There is no known risk to people but pet owners should remain vigilant, because the virus can cause Feline Infectious Peritonitis, which if left untreated can be fatal to cats. If owners have any concerns about their pet, they should speak to their vet immediately.”

“The discovery of FCoV-23, combined with the increasing cases of Brucella canis from dogs arriving on our shores, shows the UK is seriously vulnerable to imported diseases. The Government needs to grasp the nettle on this crucial issue by introducing the long overdue import testing measures BVA has been calling for.”

Reducing the Transmission of Feline Coronavirus

The transmission of FCoV can be reduced through standard infection control practices including the routine and diligent disinfection of surfaces, particularly cat litter trays, as it is believed that the new strain FCoV-23 is most likely to be spread from cat to cat via faeces.³

Surface disinfectants that are effective against FCoV should have been tested to the European Standards EN 14675 or EN 17122 against Feline Coronavirus. This is usually identified on the product back label, or in the technical information pack from the manufacturer and it is advisable to check that your current disinfectant or sanitiser has this test data, to ensure your biosecurity protocols will be effective.

More frequent hand washing is advisable, and hand sanitiser which is effective against enveloped viruses is also necessary for use when access to soap and water is not available. Regular facilities checks must ensure soap and sanitiser dispensers are in working order and that sanitiser is present.

Communication with staff and visitors is extremely important. Compliance with cleaning protocols relies upon the understanding of everyone who enters the building, so communicating the correct practices and products to both staff and visitors will help to improve compliance.

Byotrol Disinfectant Products Effective Against FCoV and FCoV-23

Byotrol’s ANIGENE Professional Surface Disinfectant Cleaner has been rigorously tested to European Standard EN 14675 against Feline Coronavirus, to confirm it is effective for preventing and controlling the spread of Feline Coronavirus in a variety of environments including veterinary clinics and hospitals, boarding facilities, zoos, and charity rehoming centres. ANIGENE Professional Surface Disinfectant Cleaner is effective against Feline Coronavirus within 5 minutes, diluted to just 1%, making it an economical solution for preventing the transmission of FCoV and FIP.

INVIRTU Hand Foam Sanitiser is effective against all enveloped viruses, and is both alcohol-free and odourless, making it particularly suitable for use around cats, for whom unfamiliar scents can cause additional stress.

For more information on Byotrol products and how they can help to protect your organisation, please click here or contact us.

Use biocides safely. Always read the label and product information before use.

 

References;

¹ FIP outbreak in Cyprus affects increasing number of cats | International Cat Care (icatcare.org)

² New feline coronavirus blamed for thousands of cat deaths in Cyprus | Science | AAAS

³ New strain of feline coronavirus identified in the UK (bva.co.uk)

What you need to know about feline coronavirus (fcov/fip) | Biogal Labs

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