Human COVID Pills Could Help Save Cyprus' Cats

Thousands of felines have died since the start of the year
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2023 2:20 PM CDT
Cyprus to Give Its Sick Cats COVID Pills Made for Humans
Cyprus’ veterinarians association on Friday Aug. 4, 2023 lauded a government decision to allow its stock of human coronavirus medication to be used on cats to fight a local mutation of a feline virus that has killed thousands of animals on the Mediterranean island.   (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, File)

Cyprus will make 80,000 anti-COVID pills that were intended for people available to veterinarians to treat the island's cats. The Guardian reports a highly virulent strain of feline coronavirus—which can't be transmitted to humans—was detected in January in the island's capital of Nicosia. FCov-2023 had spread island-wide within a few months, sickening even indoor-only cats. Transmitted through contact with cat feces, the feline coronavirus has been around since 1963 and causes feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), which is typically fatal if untreated. Past epidemics have petered out without requiring the use of any medication, but this is a highly virulent strain.

Molnupiravir, the active ingredient in the pills the vets are receiving, has been shown to help cats with FIP, and at an affordable price. The AP reports cat owners will be able to purchase the pills for $2.74 each following a diagnosis; the medication is successful in about 85% of cases. While all sides are saying the outbreak is a serious problem for the island's cats, estimates of the death toll vary wildly, from 8,000 dead cats in the first six months of the year (per area vets) to the 300,000 cited by the Cat Protection and Welfare Society of Cyprus. The Health Ministry says enough anti-COVID pills will remains in stock to treat humans, should an outbreak occur. (Read more cats stories.)

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