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Summary of the research findings relating to feline infectious peritonitis

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is caused by Feline Coronavirus (FCoV), which frequently affects cats under three years of age. While the disease is generally not severe, a small proportion of affected cats (approximately 5 per cent of infected cats in multi-cat households) can develop severe symptoms that lead to death. A presumptive diagnosis of FIP is often based on a combination of clinical history, cat’s age and findings on physical examination. However, definitive diagnosis is often clinically difficult and as such clinicians often try to form a high index of suspicion through a comprehensive series of laboratory testing.

The aim of this study was to develop and evaluate a rapid diagnostic tool that would allow
for quick detection of FCoV from clinical samples using a colorimetric assay called
LoopMediated Isothermal Amplification (or LAMP assay) and that can be completed within
two hours.

In total, 42 effusion samples derived from cats that were previously tested as being
unequivocally positive or negative for FIP, were tested with our newly developed LAMP
assay, and subsequently compared against traditional laboratory based RT-PCR assay that are currently used for definitive diagnosis.

Results indicate that the sensitivity of LAMP assay (51 per cent) was lower than RT-PCR (83 per cent) in detecting positive samples, indicating that the newly developed LAMP assay produced more false negative results compared to RT-PCR. However, the specificity of LAMP assay was acceptable (85 per cent) and results were available within two hours. Given that LAMP is a colourimetric assay, results can be interpreted easily without requiring significant technical xpertise.

Overall, our study confirms that, when clinical symptoms suggestive of FIP are observed, our newly developed LAMP assay can be used to perform a confirmatory test on site that will yield results rapidly. Positive results on the test will raises a high index of suspicion of FIP. However, a negative result may not necessarily exclude FIP. Further research aiming to refine the assay to yield higher sensitivities is warranted.

Have any questions or ideas?

Helen Radoslovich: 0408 812 319