Thursday, 13 July 2023
Feline Coronavirus has spread from Paphos to Karpaz, Turkish Cypriot vets have confirmed. It should be noted however, that there is no risk of transmission to humans, but it spreads rapidly amongst cats, especially via water and food set out for feeding strays, Yeniduzen reports.
However, reports by international media outlets that 300,000 cats on the island have died from the disease cannot be confirmed, the head of the Cyprus Veterinary Department Charalambos Pipis stated.
He stated that they could not confirm the number of “300 thousand” and said, “As there is no officially registered number of cats in Cyprus, these data are based on estimates”.
Meanwhile, vice-president of the non-governmental organisation ‘Voice of Animals’, Dinos Agiomamitis, said that there had been translation errors from the interviews he had given.
“I don’t want people to panic, the cats on the island are not near extinction. There is a very rough and hypothetical estimate that there are 1 million cats on the island”, Agiomamitis said in another interview. “Based on this assumption, if a 20-30 percent mortality rate of infected animals is applied, the resulting number is 300 thousand”.
Specific treatments for feline coronavirus (FIP)
According to Greek Cypriot online publication In-Cyprus, the outbreak of this disease amongst cats is unprecedented. Local authorities have taken some measures to address the crisis, by establishing an advisory team, launching a media awareness campaign, and working towards amending legislation to allow the use of drugs for cat treatment. However, it is emphasised that no cats should leave the country without testing negative for the virus, as the risk of spreading FIP to other regions is a significant concern. Animal welfare volunteers say that this could be devastating for strays, as many rescued cats are sent to foster homes, mainly in the UK.
The main obstacle in combating FIP is the lack of available medical treatment. Experts advocate for the use of two drugs, Remdesivir (used for Covid-19) and its related drug GS-441524, but bureaucratic hurdles and high costs have hindered their implementation.
While GS-441524 is approved for animal use in the UK and can be imported to Cyprus, its expense presents a significant barrier, ranging from £2,500 to £6,000 for a cat weighing between 3kg and 4kg.