Fears are growing for British pets as a deadly coronavirus strain that killed 8,000 cats in Cyprus has now spread to the UK. According to scientists, a cat brought to Britain from the Mediterranean island has tested positive for the virus. The infected cat, which developed symptoms, is currently isolated and undergoing further tests and treatment. The strain responsible for this outbreak is a new hybrid strain called F-CoV-23, which is a combination of an existing feline coronavirus and a canine one. Although this strain is not linked to covid-19, scientists have discovered the same ‘genetic fingerprint’ in this cat as the 91 infected cats in Cyprus.Scientists have discovered a “genetic fingerprint” in a cat on a Mediterranean island that matches the strain found in 91 infected cats. Although this strain is not linked to COVID-19, it raises concerns about the spread of the feline coronavirus outbreak. The virus has already killed thousands of cats on the island, and the number could be even higher. To control the outbreak, domesticated cats have been quarantined at clinics, and treatments authorized for human-targeted COVID-19 have been used on cats. The island, known as the “island of cats,” has a large population of stray cats that often interact with humans. A study of a British cat has warned of the risk of the feline COVID-19 outbreak spreading. Feline infection peritonitis (FIP), caused by the coronavirus, is a common disease in cats worldwide. However, this new strain has raised concerns as it can lead to FIP, which is almost always fatal without treatment.Many of the cats on the eastern Mediterranean island are strays, and it’s not uncommon for them to wander into people’s gardens, sit in restaurants, and loiter near garbage bins. The virus is estimated to have killed at least 8,000 cats in the first half of this year on the island, but could be higher than 300,000. However, the combination of canine coronavirus with the feline strain has led the virus to change and become more infectious. According to Dr. Christine Tait-Burkard, the author of the study, the new virus appears to spread readily and no longer relies on changes or mutations in the host. There is a drug that can treat FIP early on, but it can be expensive, and human-targeted COVID drugs cannot legally be used to treat cats in the UK. There is no evidence that the new virus can infect humans or dogs, and there is no proof of a similar outbreak in British cats, so owners aren’t required to keep their cats indoors on account of the virus, according to experts on the study. Dinos Agiomamitis, Head of Cats PAWS Cyprus and vice-president of Cyprus Voice for Animals, estimates a third of the cats on the island are strays.Several cats living in the southern part of Cyprus have died due to the virus. The symptoms of the virus include fever, abdominal swelling, weakness, and aggressiveness.
One of the challenges in documenting cases is the large number of stray cats on the island, making it nearly impossible to diagnose and tally up every infection.
There are two treatment options being considered. The first is a drug called remdesivir, which is used for Covid-19 and is closely related to GS-441524. The second option is molnupiravir, an antiviral drug used to treat the illness in humans.
Remdesivir is approved for use in animals in the UK and can be imported to Cyprus. However, the cost of the drug, ranging from £2,500 to £6,000 for a cat weighing between 3kg and 4kg, is causing the government to consider the second option.
Molnupiravir is estimated to cost around £170 per animal. However, the vets association’s application to authorize its use for cats was rejected in May. The government argues that human drugs cannot be imported into the country for veterinary care.
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