A highly contagious strain of coronavirus that is thought to have killed at least 8,000 cats in Cyprus has been detected in the UK.
Scientists have identified the variant as a new hybrid of existing common feline and canine coronavirus called FCoV-23, however, it is not linked to COVID-19.
The majority of cats infected with feline coronavirus will not display symptoms, but it can cause mild diarrhoea and lethargy.
But around one in 10 cases are known to develop into Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), a potentially deadly virus that leads to more severe symptoms such as anaemia and loss of appetite.
In a recent statement, the British Veterinary Association said: “A new strain of feline coronavirus (FCoV-23), levitra 20 mg cosa serve first identified in the recent outbreak in Cyprus, has been detected in a cat imported from Cyprus into the UK.
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“A cat infected with FCoV-23 may go on to develop feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) which can cause death if not treated.”
The new hybrid virus has been linked to the deaths of at least 8,000 cats in Cyprus, although some experts believe it could have killed as many as 300,000 cats there.
Now the strain has been detected in the UK, after a cat brought over from Cyprus displayed symptoms and was sent for testing by its owner.
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Speaking exclusively with Express.co.uk, Dr Nick Horniman – veterinary surgeon and founder of online pet pharmacy My Pets Vets, shared signs of feline coronavirus to look for.
He said: “With an increasing number of cats in the UK facing a threat from Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) linked to the coronavirus, there’s a growing concern among cat owners.
“It’s crucial for cat owners to be vigilant for any signs that this new strain might be impacting their pets.
“Key symptoms include fever, seizures, distended bellies, and breathing difficulties.
“However, some cats may exhibit no significant symptoms at all – so it’s important to also pay attention to any general changes in their behaviour.”
He explained that it is unlikely your cat is infected if it has not recently been to Cyprus or come into contact with another cat that has.
Dr Horniman added: “Experts suggest that if cats haven’t recently travelled to Cyprus or had direct contact with a cat from Cyprus, the risk of infection is minimal.
“It’s essential for pet hotels, veterinary practices, and catteries to remain watchful and identify any cats displaying signs of FIP.”
Experts say it is unlikely humans or dogs can become infected by cats.
Dr Horniman said: “Currently, the transmission risk of FIP from cats to humans or dogs is deemed low.
“Should your cat exhibit clinical symptoms you should contact your local vet immediately.
“Stay informed and keep a close eye on your cat’s wellbeing.”
According to the British Veterinary Association, early stage FIP causes listlessness, reduced appetite, weight loss and fever.
Later stage symptoms can include a swollen belly, difficult breathing or nervous system signs such as wobbly walking, twitching, collapsing or seizures.
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