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Vet Microbiol. 2006 Nov 26;118(1-2):12-25. Epub 2006 Sep 5.

Long-term analysis of feline calicivirus prevalence and viral shedding patterns in naturally infected colonies of domestic cats.

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Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, University of Liverpool Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Leahurst, Chester High Road, Neston CH64 7TE, United Kingdom.


Feline calicivirus (FCV) is a highly infectious respiratory pathogen of domestic cats. The prevalence of FCV in the general cat population is high, particularly in multi-cat households, largely because many clinically recovered cats remain persistently infected carriers. In order to assess how FCV circulates in such groups and to assess the contribution that each individual animal makes to the epidemiology of the disease, we have carried out the first detailed analysis of long-term shedding patterns of FCV in individual cats within naturally infected colonies. The prevalence of FCV in each of the groups on individual sampling occasions ranged from 0% to 91%, with averages for the individual colonies ranging from 6% to 75%. Within each of the colonies, one to three distinct strains of FCV were identified. Individual cats showed a spectrum of FCV shedding patterns over the sampling period which broadly grouped into three categories: those that shed virus relatively consistently, those that shed virus intermittently, and those that appeared never to shed virus. This is the first report identifying non-shedder cats that appear resistant to FCV infection over long periods of time, despite being continually exposed to virus. Such resistance appeared to be age related, which may have been immune-mediated, although by analogy with other caliciviruses, factors such as host genetic resistance may play a role. Given that a proportion of the population appears to be resistant to infection, clearly the cohort of cats that consistently shed virus are likely to provide an important mechanism whereby infection can be maintained in small populations.

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