HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the pandemic continues, much has been revealed about coronaviruses — a family of viruses that includes the one that causes COVID-19.
For one thing, the viruses don’t just impact humans. They can get animals sick, too.
Kailua resident Daniela Stolfi-Tow recently learned that after adopting a short-haired cat named Naya.
For the last several months, the seven-month-old has been battling a disease called feline infectious peritonitis. It’s caused by a coronavirus (not the one that causes COVID) that’s prevalent among cats.
The coronavirus that causes feline infectious peritonitis cannot be contracted by humans.
Stolfi-Tow noticed something was wrong when Naya kept losing weight and had difficulty walking.
Veterinarians said it’s not a common disease, but the mortality rate is high without proper treatment.
“It is a very strange, puzzling virus that is not as simple as something we would commonly get with animals,” said veterinarian Aleisha Swartz.
“FIP is the opposite, it’s quite unpredictable.”
Another hurdle is finding treatment as there are no approved options in the United States.
But if you can find it, it’s quite costly.
“It’s incredibly expensive even if you can get it,” Stolfi-Tow said. “We’re talking a minimum of $4,000 to treat one case. Some go up to $10,000 and $15,000, so most animals that get it have to be put down.”
Exact numbers of spread and prevalence in the islands is not known.
Stolfi-Tow said two of Naya’s siblings have died from the disease.
Swartz said the lack of treatment has put the veterinarian community in a challenging situation.
“As a veterinarian, our hands are tied because we can’t prescribe medications that are not approved by the FDA,” Swartz said.
“It also concerns us that medications are sold on the black market because you have no way to know what’s coming in your package.”