Human coronavirus meds cure deadly cat disease.

The Guardian reports from Cyprus, where an antiviral medicine for human COVID-19 patients has proved effective against a deadly outbreak of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), a disease that kills cats:

“We have taken stock of 500 boxes of medication,” Christodoulos Pipis, the government’s veterinary services director, told the Guardian. “This is the first batch of 2,000 packages that will be made available. Each one contains 40 capsules so we are talking about a total of 80,000 [anti-Covid] pills.”

Distribution of the drugs follows an “alarming increase” in Cyprus of cases of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) caused by feline coronavirus which, if left untreated, is almost always fatal.

Defined as the “FCoV-23 outbreak”, the virus was first noticed in January in Nicosia, the Cypriot capital. Within three to four months it had spread across “the whole island”, according to the Pancyprian Veterinary Association (PVA).

Although the mutated feline virus is not related to Covid-19 and cannot be contracted by humans, molnupiravir, the active ingredient in anti-Covid pills, has proved to be beneficial to cats diagnosed with FIP.

Shed in the faeces of infected cats and then spread through contact, feline coronavirus was first recorded in the 1960s. Outbreaks of FIP, though rare, have previously occurred in the UK, US, Taiwan and Greece, but were always confined to catteries.

In Cyprus the virus appears to have assumed a much more virulent infectious form with even indoor-only pets falling victim.

Last week when the cabinet announced it would allow part of the island republic’s official stock of human coronavirus medication to be used, cat lovers rejoiced because the anti-Covid pills were so much more affordable.

“Each pack will cost €100,” said Pipis, noting that by the end of the week the first batch of drugs would be distributed to veterinary centres across five districts. “One hundred packages will be delivered to each district. Cat owners who have a prescription from a vet will be eligible to buy it.”

[h/t XK]