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TDK conference 2020

Prevalence of feline coronavirus in fecal samples of domestic cats in Hungary
Matuska Regina - year 6
University of Veterinary Medicine Budapest, Department of Pathology
Supervisor: Dr. Anna Szilasi


Feline coronavirus (FCoV) infection is extremely common in domestic and wild cats

worldwide. The infection may be asymptomatic or causing only mild intestinal signs such as

diarrhoea (so-called enteric coronavirus infection) or may develop the feline infectious

peritonitis (FIP) caused by highly virulent strains engendered by genetic mutation. FIP is a

lethal disease that can affect up to 10% of FCoV-infected patients. It is almost impossible to

give a successful treatment once the symptoms appear, although nowadays a new agent shows

promising results. The knowledge of FCoV’s presence in a cat is just as essential as making a

rapid and proper diagnosis, which may give the animal a chance to be treated more effectively

or to make an appropriate decision about its prognosis. One step in diagnosing FIP is to search

for the virus in the animal. This is because seropositivity does not mean that it is an active

infection (or that it is in background of FIP), so it is not sufficient only to examine the presence

of antibodies. During our investigations, we have examined the prevalence of FCoV in

Hungarian cat populations. A significant number of samples came from two shelters in

Békéscsaba, the other samples were collected from companion animals. Rectal swab samples

were collected from a total of 77 cats, which formed the basis of our research. RNA extracted

from the fecal samples was studied by end-point polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which is

capable of qualitative, but not quantitative measurements. The primers we used are binding to

a conserved region of the viral genome. 20.78% of the examined samples were PCR-positive

meaning those cats were shedding the virus at the time of sampling. The two main aspects of

grouping were age and gender. In terms of sex, infection was more common in male cats. The

specimens collected from male cats were accounted for less than half (40.26%) of the total

number of samples, yet 56.25% of FCoV-positive samples were obtained from males. Based

on age, a significant portion of the positive samples came from individuals younger than 2

years, within that the proportion of those that were around the weaning age stood out. Based on

our results, it can be stated that FCoV infection is also present in Hungary and mainly affects

young cats. The survey and its possible extensions in the future may provide a basis for a later

possible FIP-incidence study as well as provide an opportunity for phylogenetic analysis of

underlying virus strains.

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