Important new information sheds light on hepatitis viruses and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Morris Animal Foundation-funded researchers from the University of Sydney have found a previously undiscovered hepadnavirus in an immunocompromised cat, and subsequently in banked feline blood samples. The research team published their results today in the journal Viruses.
According to Dr. Julia Beatty, Professor of Feline Medicine at the University of Sydney School of Veterinary Medicine, “The domestic cat hepadnavirus is in the same family as hepatitis B virus in people. Until now, we didn’t know that companion animals could get this type of infection. We obviously need to understand the impact of this infection on cat health.”
Dr. Beatty says that similar viruses can cause hepatitis and liver cancer in other species, but that the hepadnavirus poses no risk to humans or other pets.
Dr. Beatty and her team first identified the virus in a FIV-positive cat that died of lymphoma. Once the team identified the virus, they then tested stored blood samples from other adult cats. They found evidence of infection with the hepadnavirus in the banked samples, and the new virus was identified in 10 percent of the FIV-infected cats and 3.2 percent in non-FIV infected cats.
“Apart from its relevance for feline health, this discovery helps us understand how hepatitis viruses, which can be deadly, are evolving in all species,” explained Dr. Beatty.
This finding is considered especially important because the discovery of a previously unknown virus is the first step in developing a vaccine to prevent infection.
Study on Cardiomyopathy
An international, 10-year investigation on feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy recently published its findings in the Journal of Veterinary Medicine. The study reports that HC is a global feline health problem, affecting millions of cats. And while the disease has been recognized by veterinarians for nearly 50 years, almost nothing was known about its epidemiology until now. This form of heart disease can also cause heart failure and sudden death in people.
“The study documented that hypertrophic cardiomyopathy puts cats at considerable risk to develop congestive heart failure, arterial blood clots and cardiac death,” said lead author, Dr. Philip Fox, head of cardiology at the Animal Medical Center in NYC. “Heart failure or blood clots occur in nearly one-third of affected cats, and overall, one in every three or four affected cats experiences a cardiac-related death. This information underscores the need to develop updated perspectives in feline cardiac health, including novel health care treatment strategies that can extend the life span of pets living with this disease.”
Hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (a form of the disease) did not result in shorter life expectancy or greater complications than the nonobstructive form of this disease. — Catnip staff