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Am J Vet Res. 1981 Mar;42(3):368-77.

An enteric coronavirus infection of cats and its relationship to feline infectious peritonitis.


An enteric coronavirus that is antigenically closely related to feline infectious peritonitis virus (FIPV) is ubiquitous in the cat population. This virus has been designated feline enteric coronavirus to differentiate it from FIPV. The virus is shed in the feces by many seropositive cats; in catteries it is a cause of inapparent to mildly severe enteritis in kittens 6 to 12 weeks of age. The virus may produce a more severe enteritis in young specific-pathogen-free kittens. Feline enteric coronavirus selectively infects the apical columnar epithelium of the intestinal villi, from the caudal part of the duodenum to the cecum. In severe infections, there are sloughing of the tips of the villi and villous atrophy. Many cats recovering from the disease remain carriers of the virus. Recovered cats, observed for 3 to 24 months, remained healthy and did not develop peritonitis, pleuritis, or granulomatous disease. The relationship of feline enteric coronavirus and FIPV was studied. Although the viruses were antigenically similar, they were distinctly different in their pathogenicities. The enteric coronavirus did not cause feline infectious peritonitis in coronavirus antibody-negative cats inoculated orally or intraperitoneally nor in coronavirus antibody-positive cats inoculated intraperitoneally or intratracheally. Serologic tests, using FIPV, canine coronavirus, and transmissible gastroenteritis virus of swine as substrate antigens in fluorescent antibody procedures may not accurately identify FIPV infection. These tests do not appear to distinguish between FIPV and this feline enteric coronavirus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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