Feline coronavirus is a common infection in cats, as indicated by the high prevalence of antibodies against the virus, especially in multicat households. Approximately 5 to 12 per cent of seropositive cats develop classical feline infectious peritonitis. A survey of kittens born into households of seropositive cats demonstrated the existence of healthy coronavirus carriers. Seronegative animals did not appear to excrete virus. No specific antibody titre could be linked to carrier status and some carrier cats subsequently became seronegative. The management of the kittens strongly influenced whether they became infected, and some degree of protection appeared to be conferred by maternally derived antibody. At present, feline infectious peritonitis virus and feline enteric coronavirus can only be differentiated by their different clinical histories in infected catteries. In this survey, cases of feline infectious peritonitis occurred in kittens from households where the initial presentation had been enteritis and vice versa. Therefore no difference in epidemiology could be found.
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