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J Clin Microbiol. 1996 Dec;34(12):3180-4.

Two related strains of feline infectious peritonitis virus isolated from immunocompromised cats infected with a feline enteric coronavirus.

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Center for Companion Animal Health, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis 95616, USA.


Two groups of cats were experimentally infected orally with the cat-passaged RM strain of feline enteric coronavirus (FECV-RM). One group of cats (n = 19) had been chronically infected with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) for over 6 years, while a second control group (n = 20) consisted of FIV-naive siblings. Fecal virus shedding of FECV occurred in both groups starting on day 3 postinfection, nearly ceased by 4 weeks in FIV-uninfected cats, but remained at high levels in FIV-infected animals. FIV-infected cats shed virus for a longer period of time and at levels 10 to 100 times greater than those for FIV-uninfected cats. The coronavirus antibody response of the FIV-infected cats was delayed and of reduced titer compared with that of the FIV-uninfected animals. Cats in both groups remained asymptomatic for the first two months following FECV-RM infection; however, 8 to 10 weeks postinfection two cats in the FIV-infected group developed feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). The FIP viruses (designated FIPV-UCD9 and -UCD10) isolated from these two cats had almost complete genetic homology to each other and to the infecting FECV-RM. However, unlike FECV-RM, they readily induced FIP when inoculated intraperitoneally into specific-pathogen-free cats. This study confirms that FIPVs are frequently and rapidly arising mutants of FECV. Immunosuppression caused by chronic FIV infection may have enhanced the creation and selection of FIPV mutants by increasing the rate of FECV replication in the bowel and inhibiting the host's ability to combat the mutant viruses once they occurred.

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