What is it?
FIP is caused by a highly fatal and contagious Coronavirus that causes damage to the chest or the abdomen.  There are many types of Coronaviruses and not all of them cause FIP; some Coronaviruses simply cause a mild diarrhea.
Who is susceptible to it?
Cats of any breed and age (usually between 6 months and 5 years).
How does it spread?
Spread by contaminated feces; inanimate objects also play a role.  If you have a cat that has been diagnosed or is suspected to be infected with FIP, do not bring a new cat into the household for at least 30 days after the infected cat has been removed and the environment cleaned. 
Time line from exposure to signs?
Signs of the disease can develop very slowly, over a period of months. 
What are the symptoms?
Early signs include loss of appetite, high fever, and labored breathing.  These early signs are very vague and can mimic other diseases.  As the disease progresses signs may include difficulty breathing, distended abdomen, and weight loss.  Death will eventually occur.  There are two forms the disease. 
  1. Effusive (wet) Form – characterized by the build up of fluid within the chest or the abdomen.
  2. Non-effusive (Dry) Form – Characterized by the build up of pussy nodules in any body system or organ.  This makes diagnosis very difficult because symptoms depend on which body organ is affected. 
Is there a test for it?
No, we rely on clinical signs, laboratory data and history to diagnose this disease.  Sadly the blood test available cannot differentiate between Coronaviruses that cause FIP and those that cause mild diarrhea.  In spite of this the Veterinarian may still want to run the test since it will help in the overall diagnosis.   The only way to confirm FIP is by performing an organ biopsy often done post mortem (after death).
How is it treated?
There is no effective treatment for FIP.  Treatment is supportive care with Prednisolone and symptomatic management as needed.  Prognosis is guarded. 
Cleaning the environment?
Disinfecting with 4 ounces of bleach in one gallon of water is effective in killing the virus.
Is there a vaccine?
Yes.  The vaccine is given intranasally and requires two doses 4 weeks apart with yearly boosters. WeDO NOT recommend this vaccine because:
  1. FIP is not a major health problem in the average household.  Is is primarily a disease of catteries.
  2. The vaccine was not effective in some independent experimental studies.
  3. The vaccine may increase the chance of developing the disease.
Risk for humans?
Man is not known to be affected by FIP.
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