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Vets call for human medicines to fight feline coronavirus

cats sit on a wall in the old city of nicosia
File photo

Vets on Wednesday appealed to the health ministry for hospital-grade FIP vaccines for cats amid an upsurge of the fatal disease caused by feline coronavirus.

The state veterinary services said they are in consultation with the health ministry on the issue.

Meanwhile, experts clarified the disease, which is responsible for one third of cat deaths in the government-controlled areas, cannot be transmitted from animals to humans.

If there are any therapeutic preparations used in humans available which are due to expire in the near future those can be made available to the veterinary services to protect the cat population against FIP virus infection, director of the veterinary services Christodoulos Pipis told the Cyprus News Agency.

This will be done in consultation with the Cyprus Veterinary Association, Cyprus Veterinary Council and Cyprus Veterinary Medicines Council, which will inform of the quantities needed.

The use of such vaccines in felines is crucial due to the increased incidence of Feline Infectious Peritonitis virus observed compared to previous years, experts told the Cyprus News Agency.

FIP, caused by a feline coronavirus (FCoV), is one of the most important infectious diseases and causes of death in cats, with those under two most vulnerable.

A treatment for FIP has been discovered in 2019, Epaminondas said, but no veterinary medicine has been approved for use within the EU.

Instead, some human medicines approved for coronavirus, such as remdesivir and mollupiravir, have been used, according to European regulations.

The Pancyprian Veterinary Association also highlighted the importance of having those drugs available.

“Veterinarians should have access to this treatment so that we do not witness daily cases of cats dying and desperate guardians of cats turning to various sources of supply of preparations of dubious quality and effectiveness,” it said.

This is supported by the joint letter of encouragement from the European Federation of Veterinarians (FVE) and the European Federation of Companion Animal Veterinarians (FECAVA) to the member states, the association said.

A survey by the Pancyprian veterinary association among its members showed that in 2021 there were about 100 suspected cases of FIP, of which 36 were confirmed by laboratory methods. In 2022 there were about 220 of which 100 were confirmed.

The numbers have skyrocketed since then as in the first three months of this year there were 500 cases of which 105 were confirmed.

And this is a pan-European issue, said the head of the cats protection and welfare association Dinos Ayiomamitis.

“Over 30 per cent of cats died in Cyprus [were as a result] and this continues,” he said, noting most of those did not even get the chance to visit the vet.

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