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Posted: 17th July 2023

Outbreak of feline infectious peritonitis hits Cyprus
"Cats being imported from Cyprus to the UK should be tested for the virus before travel" - Dr Justine Shotton
FIP has killed up to 300,000 cats in Cyprus since January.

An outbreak of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) has killed an estimated 300,000 cats on the island of Cyprus since January this year. Both wild and domestic cats have been affected by the strain of coronavirus.

The outbreak, which started in the capital city of Nicosia is the largest the island has seen.

Officially, the number of FIP cases reported to the agriculture ministry in the southern part of the island currently totals 107. But, the actual figure is suspected to be far higher due to the large cat population in Cyprus.

Feline coronavirus doesn’t usually cause any serious issues but in about 10 per cent of cases, the virus will multiply and mutate into FIP. This can cause an extreme inflammatory reaction in the tissues surrounding the abdomen, kidney, or brain, and is almost always fatal.

Head of Cat Protection and Welfare Society (PAWS) Cyprus, Dinos Ayiomamitis, told Agence France Presse: “We have lost 300,000 cats since January from FIP.”

Mr Ayiomamitis later told the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation that the figure is a rough calculation based on an estimate of a 20-30 per cent mortality rate among the island’s cat population of approximately one million.

Responding to the news, Dr Justine Shotton, British Veterinary Association senior vice-president, said: “The reported cases of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) in Cyprus are understandably concerning. However, FIP is a condition seen in cats in the UK and so while tests are ongoing to determine if this is a new strain of the virus, our current advice for cat owners is to contact their vet if they have any concerns about their pet’s health or welfare and discuss any preventative healthcare options. 

“Cats being imported from Cyprus to the UK should be tested for the virus before travel and not be moved if they test positive. As a precautionary measure, anyone travelling to Cyprus for a holiday should avoid touching cats there and make sure to clean the soles of their shoes and suitcase wheels before leaving to avoid inadvertently bringing the virus into the UK.”

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