Picornaviruses are small viruses infecting many animal species as well as humans. This family of viruses includes many important human and veterinary pathogens including the common cold virus, poliovirus, and foot and mouth disease virus. Thus far, picornaviruses infecting cats have not been identified.
The investigators screened fecal, urine, blood, and nasopharyngeal swab samples from over 600 cats in Hong Kong over a 3-year period for picornavirus using genetic detection methods. They found a novel virus which after characterization was found to be most closely related to but distinct from all known picornaviruses. Their findings indicated that infection of cats with this virus was quite common. While the cats tested in this study were all apparently healthy, further research is required to fully understand the significance of this virus among cats. [MK]