WINNing the FIP Fight: Winn Feline Foundation Symposium

American Humane Association's Adopt A Cat Month celebrates what we're learning about cat health. The worst thing that can happen to any cat is feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) - it's a fatal disease, and worst of all it mostly affect little babies, kittens.

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WINNing the FIP Fight, sign up for the symposium....space is dwindling (the room only holds so many) - veterinary professionals, cat breeders, all cat lovers are welcome.

Finally, there may be some good news....and perhaps, hope - at least for kittens with one of the two variations of the disease.

What's equally as hopefully are that top-notch researchers around the world are determined to learn the secrets of FIP.  Two rock stars in veterinary medicine, 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. 

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Susan Gingrich, who created the Winn Feline Foundation Bria Fund will be at this event, as will several superstars in veterinary medicine....most notably, the presenters, Dr. Neils Pederson, who literally wrote the book on feline diseases; and multi award winner Dr. Al Legendre

There's such enormous interest in the event - it's nearly sold out. Truly, you need to reserve space if you want to attend - from veterinarians and veterinary technicians (who will receive CE credit) to cat breeders to shelter professionals to just ordinary cat lovers. (If you are unable to travel to to attend - alert someone you know who lives nearby)

The purpose of the symposium is to reveal the latest findings from both Pederson (who's working on the genetic links related to FIP) and Legendre (who's working on a drug therapy). Also, to simply tell all about what is known about FIP - which remains misunderstood.

Here's what I mean: Sadly, cats are over-crowded in shelters. This elevates the level of stress, which makes cats more susceptible to disease (that's one reason why we need to adopt more). However, one shelter recently euthanized many cats because FIP occurred. That is a shockingly ignorant response since - despite the name of the disease - FIP is itself not contagious. Pederson once told me that he sometimes thinks more kittens die as a result of misunderstandings about the disease itself. Not that FIP doesn't kill enough kittens. It's awful.
(click continue reading)

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Dr. Niels Pedersen

Indeed
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 .
And the incidence can be up to ten times greater among kittens from catteries
(breeders) or shelters.
(WGN Radio Petcast: Listen to Dr. Pederson talk about FIP).

Legendre
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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Dr. Al Legendre

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 will 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
with FIP.

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"

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We need to stop FIP! For those who say it can't be done....that the disease is too complex....I say 'It has to be done!' I am sick and tired of seeing our babies die (and suffer) before their time.

It's true PI only helps
20 percent of cats 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. 

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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. The seminar event, includes Q & A time, and dinner for $45. Proceeds
benefit the Winn Feline Foundation Bria Fund
, which provides funding for FIP
research.

©Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services, 2011

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  • Already have my tickets and attending with my boyfriend. We are going to be there for the CFA Annual. Hope to meet you!

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