Feline morbillivirus (FeMV) has recently been reported in Hong Kong and mainland China in 2012 and in Japan in 2013. It is suspected to be associated with chronic kidney disease (CKD) in cats; however, a cause and effect relationship still needs further investigate.
Researchers from Tufts University and their international collaborators identified FeMV in cats in the United States showing it not to be geographically restricted to Asia. They assessed its genetic diversity and infection patterns in the United States by collecting and genetically analyzing urine samples from domestic cats. Ten out of 327 samples (~ 3%) allowed DNA sequence amplification; 3 cats had CKD and 7 cats did not have CKD. The researchers then constructed a complete genome sequence of FeMV in US cats (FeMVUS1). The complete genome and H surface antigen glycoprotein sequences were further used in a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis whereby FeMVUS1 and other US strains were shown to be closely related to viruses from Asia; highlighting the global distribution of FeMV. These results suggest a long evolutionary association of FeMV in cats.
In addition, a novel and surprising observation was noting identical FeMV DNA sequences from a clinically healthy cat after 15 months, which is consistent with the known propensity for morbilliviruses to persist long-term in its infected host. This observation should prompt additional research because the prevalence of CKD in cats is high, and CKD decreases the quality of life of affected animals and is the ultimate cause of death for approximately one third of cats. (GO)