Diagnostic features of clinical neurologic feline infectious peritonitis

J Vet Intern Med. Nov-Dec 1998;12(6):415-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-1676.1998.tb02144.x.


Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a fatal Arthus-type immune response of cats to infection with FIP virus, a mutant of the ubiquitous feline enteric coronavirus (FECV). The disease may occur systemically or in any single organ system, and primary neurologic disease is a common subset of such manifestations. We examined 16 domestic cats with clinical neurologic FIP and 8 control cats with nonneurologic FIP, with the intention of identifying the ante- and postmortem diagnostic tests that most contribute to accurate diagnosis. Of the 16 cats with neurologic FIP, 15 were less than 2 years of age and all 16 originated from large multiple-cat households. The most useful antemortem indicators of disease were positive anti-coronavirus IgG titer in cerebrospinal fluid, high serum total protein concentration, and findings on magnetic resonance imaging suggesting periventricular contrast enhancement, ventricular dilatation, and hydrocephalus. Postmortem diagnosis was facilitated by FIP monoclonal antibody staining of affected tissue and coronavirus-specific polymerase chain reaction. Most cats with neurologic and ocular forms of FIP had patchy, focal lesions, suggesting that recently developed technologies described in this report may be useful for evaluation of cats with suspected FIP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Viral / analysis
  • Blood Proteins / analysis
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / virology
  • Cats
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Proteins / analysis
  • Coronavirus, Feline / genetics
  • Coronavirus, Feline / immunology
  • Electrophoresis, Agar Gel / veterinary
  • Feline Infectious Peritonitis / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulin G / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / veterinary
  • Male
  • Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis
  • Nervous System Diseases / veterinary*
  • RNA, Viral / analysis
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction / veterinary
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms / immunology


  • Antigens, Viral
  • Blood Proteins
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Proteins
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • RNA, Viral