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W97-FOLEY: The influence of age and passive systemic immunity on the severity and duration of feline enteric coronavirus infection

The researchers hope to confirm the existence of age-related resistance to FECV infection, and to determine whether natural infection can be delayed by the administration of FECV immune serum. Kittens reared in catteries are usually infected with non-pathogenic (avirulent) feline enteric coronavirus (FECV) between five and 16 weeks of age. Prior to this time they are solidly protected by maternal immunity. Although this period is brief in terms of a cat’s life, the precise age when FECV infection occurs can have serious repercussions. Kittens infected with FECV at a very young age shed much more virus and for a longer time than older animals. Although FECV infection itself is largely asymptomatic, a greater level and duration of virus replication has been shown to increase the subsequent incidence of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). Thus, delaying the time of FECV infection as long as possible should significantly decrease overall FIP mortality in an FECV endemic colony. The objectives of this study are, therefore, 1) to confirm the existence of age resistance to FECV infection and the time when resistance becomes maximal, and 2) to determine whether natural infection can be delayed by passively administered FECV immune serum in order to synchronize the timing of primary disease with maximal immunity. (Continuation of a grant awarded in 1995)

Grant ID: W97-FOLEY

Status: Active

Year Funded: 1997

Amount awarded: $10,000

Investigator: J.E. Foley, DVM, MS, PhD; N.C. Pedersen, DVM, PhD; University of California, Davis