Recent studies have shown that the virus known as “feline morbillivirus,” which can lead to renal failure in cats, is also a potential human pathogen.
In October 2022, the National Academy of Sciences published the newest findings of virologists from the University of Pittsburgh. The highlighted research discovered that a virus responsible for chronic kidney failure in cats might also be transmitted to people.
Ten years ago, the feline morbillivirus (FeMV) was discovered in Hong Kong’s stray cats. Since its discovery in Asia, the viral agent has reached other continents.
Domestic cats in Western Asia and Europe have tested positive for FeMV. In 2016, a research team in Boston, Massachusetts, was the first to identify and sequence FeMV in the United States.
According to researchers, the FeMV virus is related to a feline form of measles. However, unlike measles, FeMV spreads from host to host through urine in the same way as the zoonotic Nipah virus carried in bats.
Nipah is responsible for causing annual outbreaks of severe disease in people across Southeast Asia.
A documentary entitled “Why Doctor?” reveals that the Feline encephalitis virus (FeMV) enters cells by attaching itself to a surface protein receptor called CD150.
According to the conclusions of a recent Pittsburgh University study, this virus could jump to humans. This is the first research to explain the mechanism of a misunderstood virus and how it may go from infecting animals to spreading to people.
Understanding the FeMV
For many years, nobody paid much attention to feline morbillivirus. However, Paul Duprex, director of the Vaccine Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh, has said on the matter:
” We are now able to shine a light on its connection to chronic kidney disease and better understand how we can stop transmission and potential spillover into human populations.”
The professor admits that growing the virus in laboratories is challenging, but the reward is worth the hassle.
These animal pathogens are of the utmost importance to the researcher’s work because of the possibility that they will infect people. Duprex stated:
“That’s why illuminating animal diseases proactively matters. Preparedness is vital in heading off an epidemic.”
By making a genetically modified version of FeMV, researchers could track its spread through cells and organs. They found that the virus can be stopped from spreading by blocking a group of enzymes that break down proteins.
Furthermore, patients who have received vaccinations against the disease are immune to its effects.
If the coronavirus waves have taught the world one thing, it is that you can never be too prepared for a pandemic.