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Feline coronavirus & FIP

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Quantitative analysis of the feline coronavirus (FCoV) load in order to determine asymptomatic animal status in a cattery/group and for FIP diagnosis.

Reasons for testing

  • Assessment of viral shedding (viral load shed) and contagiosity of cats in catteries. Status determination of breeding cats in catteries.
    Detection of chronic carriers (rectal swab analysis).
  • FIP diagnosis in cats with clinical signs of dry (non effusive) or wet (effusive) form of FIP. Confirmation of anatomopathological results.

Test characteristics

  • RT-PCR
  • Limit of detection
  • Quantitative analysis of the viral load for status determination of asymptomatic carriers
  • Our assay does not discriminate between enteric coronavirus and FIP coronavirus. It is very important to choose the right sample for analysis in order to get an informative result.
  • The assay has been optimized in order to not detect the virus in the blood of asymptomatic animals (diagnostic specificity is 96 %) [study done on 100 asymptomatic cats which were carriers of enteric coronavirus]. In cats with dry form of FIP, the assay sensitivity in a blood sample is 94%.
    In cats with wet form of FIP, the assay sentitivity on abdominal fluid is 100%.

Diagnostic samples

  • Asymptomatic animals: rectal swab.
    This sample is not suitable for FIP diagnostics.
    Important ! Carriers are not detected by blood sample analysis with our assay.
  • Dry forms (non effusive) of FIP: CSF (neurological forms), aqueous humor (ocular forms), kidney or liver biopsies, whole blood - EDTA. The blood sample must be collected during hyperthermia peaks.
    Blood and rectal swab can possibly be sent in order to perform a double analysis on young kittens.
    Post-mortem: damaged organs (kidney, liver, lungs¦).
  • Wet forms (effusive) of FIP: abdominal or thoracic fluid (EDTA)

Result interpretation

  • Rectal swab analysis (asymptomatic carrier)
    • Negative result: absence of virus or quantity lower than the limit of detection
    • Low or very low viral load: the animal is probably not a chronic carrier. The virus could be eliminated and the animal is slightly contagious.
    • Medium, high and very high viral load: the animal is a coronavirus carrier and may be a chronic carrier (to be checked by a second analysis a few weeks later for adult cats, especially for breeding cats). These animals must be isolated because they are contagious. In kittens, high viral loads are frequently detected but most of these animals will eliminate the virus if they are isolated from shedders. Diarrhea may be observed.
  • FIP suspicion- blood analysis (EDTA): animals with FIP are viremic during hyperthermia peaks. With a negative result on a blood sample, FIP can not be excluded for certain, especially in the early onset of the disease
    (sensitivity of 94%).
    A blood positive result means FIP is highly likely. Nevertheless, some asymptomatic animals can be positive in blood for a few weeks following infection with enteric coronavirus, but in opposition with ill animals, their fecal viral load is very high. A double analysis blood / rectal swab is therefore recommended on animals (especially young kittens) which might have recently been infected. If blood is positive and the rectal load is very high, a recent infection with enteric coronavirus is probable and hypothesis of FIP can be dismissed.
  • FIP suspicion-other samples: the presence of coronavirus in CSF or in aqueous humor confirms diagnosis. In fluids and organs, only significant viral loads can be interpreted. If the viral load is very low, it would be indicated on the analysis report. In this case FIP is highly unlikely. Positive results without no additional comment are compatible with FIP.
Considering FIP complexity and our assay specifications, do not hesitate to contact us to choose appropriate samples and for interpretation of results.