Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) might be the most dreaded diagnosis for cats. That's because it usually happens to
babies, little kittens. FIP - up 'till now - has always been considered a fatal
disease. Finally, it seems, there may be hope - at least for some cats with
announce new directions in FIP research, and actual successes, world renown researchers
Dr. Niels Pederson, director for the Center of Companion Animal Health at the
University of California School of Veterinary Medicine, Davis and Dr. Al
Legendre, professor at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary
Medicine, Knoxville headline the 2011 Winn Feline Foundation Symposium, WINNing the FIP Fight, June 23, 6:45
p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Reston Town Center (1800 Presidents Street), Reston,
VA. The seminar event, includes Q & A time, and dinner for $45. Proceeds
benefit the Winn Feline Foundation Bria Fund, which provides funding for FIP
momentum and results when it comes to FIP research," says Dr. Susan Little,
feline practitioner in Ottawa, Ontario Canada and past president of the Winn
Feline Foundation, the non-profit funder of cat health studies.
two legends of veterinary medicine together at the same time is very rare, and
to actually allow time for Q & A. I don't know a veterinarian, a cat
breeder or a cat lover who wouldn't benefit. FIP touches everyone."
FIP occurs more often than most previously might have guessed. According to
Pederson, FIP kills one in 100 to one in 300 of all cats under five years old (though mostly kittens are stricken).
And the incidence can be up to ten times greater among kittens from catteries
(breeders) or shelters.
says if a disease killed puppies with this kind of frequency, a cure might have
been found years ago because of the emphasis and dollars which go to canine
studies. "Well, might have been found,"
reinforces Legendre, who calls FIP the most complex disease he's ever studied.
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occurs as a result of an unexpected mutation of the common enteric feline
corona virus. The coronavirus isn't only common in cats; other mammal species
have their own associated coronaviruses.
In fact, the common cold is often a
result of a human coronavirus. For cats, the coronavirus itself is typically benign
- symptoms may not be evident or perhaps there is mild tummy upset.
then for reasons, which so far remain shrouded in medical mystery, in some cats
the benign corona virus mutates into an immune mediated kitten killer known as
FIP. Essentially the cat's body attacks itself - and until now, there's no shot
at treating the inevitable.
are two forms of FIP; one is called the wet (effusive) form and the other is
termed the dry form. FIP remains sometimes misdiagnosed, and can be difficult
Much of what we do know
about FIP is a result of Pederson's research. He's been studying FIP for
decades. He says, "I think that we will have a better handle on FIP causative
mutations. We are still collecting DNA samples from cats with FIP, healthy
cats closely related to cats dying of FIP, and healthy cats from bloodlines
free of FIP. The goal is to use these samples to identify FIP
susceptibility genes. If such genes can be identified, and tests created
for them, it will be possible to significantly reduce the incidence of FIP
among pure breed cats."
Pederson says he might
have something new to talk about the symposium. For sure, Legendre does have
news. Until now, there have been dozens of medications attempted for treatment
of FIP - everything from cancer drugs to chicken soup. Nothing has worked.
Polyprenyl Immunostimulant (PI) is a drug which can be used to treat cats with
feline herpes (upper respiratory infections). It was Legendre, and the
pharmaceutical company Sass & Sass, who together thought PI might help cats
Legendre says, "So far,
20 percent of the cats with dry FIP treated with PI do better than anticipated
(which means they don't die, what's more they are no longer sick)," he says. "Many
of these treated cats are now a about six months out or more. But we haven't
been doing this long enough to determine anything long-term, except for our
poster cat who is three years now out past treatment"
It's true PI only helps
20 percent of cat with dry FIP, and appears to be completely ineffective
against the wet form of FIP. Still, this is the first time any drug has shown
to make a difference - even if it is only for a relatively small percent of FIP
cats. Legendre may be able to increase those percentages if he can learn why
some cats respond while others do not. PI is not yet available for public use.
Neither Legendre or
Pedersen believe a magic cure is around the corner. But they agree we're closer
than ever as the mysteries of FIP continue to unravel, maybe the scientists
will "winn." Registration for the Symposium is required by June 17 (though the
event may sell out sooner), or call 856-447-9787.
©Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services, 2011
Tags: Bria Fund, Dr Al Legendre, Dr. Niels Pedersen, Dr. Susan Little, feline coronavirus, feline infectious peritonitis, FIP, PI, polyprenyl immunostumulant, Sass & Sass, Steve Dale, Susan Gingrich, Winn Feline Foundation, Winn Feline Foundation Symposium