In a concerning development, a potentially fatal strain of cat Covid that has claimed thousands of feline lives in Cyprus has reportedly made its way to the UK. Recent reports says that a cat brought to Britain from Cyprus has tested positive for the virus, prompting scientists to investigate the presence of this new hybrid strain.
The infected cat, displaying symptoms after testing positive, is currently undergoing further tests and treatment in isolation under the care of its owner. The identified strain, known as F-CoV-23 or feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), is a novel combination of an existing feline coronavirus and a canine one.
The virus has wreaked havoc on Cyprus, claiming the lives of an estimated 8,000 cats in the first half of this year, with some reports suggesting the number could be as high as 300,000. Alarming statistics led to the approval of the use of human coronavirus medication for cats in August.
A study on the infected British cat, published on the open-access platform bioRxiv, highlights the potential risk of the feline Covid outbreak spreading further. Dr. Christine Tait-Burkard, the study’s author, expressed concern, stating that the new virus seems to spread easily.
It’s important to note that there is currently no evidence suggesting that this virus can infect humans or dogs. However, the head of Cats PAWS Cyprus, Dinos Ayiomamitis, estimates that a third of the island’s cat population has succumbed to the virus, with symptoms including fever, abdominal swelling, weakness, and aggressiveness.
The situation is dire, and the findings underscore the need for swift action and heightened awareness. Stay tuned for updates as experts work to contain and understand this emerging threat to our feline friends.