New Research Focuses on Two Deadly Feline Diseases


Attention on FIP and vs-FCV

Yunjeong Kim — a research assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University— has developed a research approach that simultaneously tackles two deadly infectious feline diseases. “Coronavirus and calicivirus infections are very common among cats, and cats tend to get repeatedly infected by these viruses throughout their lifetime,” explains Kim, who is employed in the college’s diagnostic medicine and pathobiology department. “Feline coronavirus can cause gastroenteritis, and calicivirus often causes ulcerative upper respiratory infection with gingivitis and stomatitis. In most cases, these viral infections are mild and self-limited.”

According to Kim, some cats that are infected with these viruses develop life-threatening illnesses with high fatality rates. The deadly form of feline coronavirus infection — feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) —has been recognized since the early 1970s and is the leading infectious cause of death in young cats.

More recently, virulent systemic feline calicivirus infection (vs-FCV) is associated with a systemic infection that is frequently fatal. Since 1998, numerous outbreaks of vs-FCV infection have been reported in animal shelters and catteries — with mortality as high as 67 percent.

Vaccines are available for FIP and vs-FCV, but their application is often limited or not recommended due to various reasons, and there is no antiviral drug for these viral infections. So, there is a great need for safe and effective antiviral drugs for these diseases. “We have been working on a virus protease that is highly conserved among some viruses, including coronavirus and calicivirus,” explained Kim. “This virus protease, 3C-like protease, is essential for successful virus replication, thus it is a promising target for antiviral drug development.”


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