August 12, 2023
In an unprecedented move. Cyprus has taken a bold step to protect its feline population by treating sick cats with a human Covid-19 drug. The island’s famous cat population has been under threat from a deadly feline coronavirus. The virus has already claimed the lives of approximately 8,000 cats. The novel initiative offers a glimmer of hope for the island’s beloved feline companions.
Veterinarians in Cyprus commenced the rollout of molnupiravir, an anti-Covid drug marketed under the name Lagevrio, on August 8. The launch of this treatment coincided serendipitously with International Cat Day, bringing attention to the efforts to combat the lethal feline virus. The medication, intended for humans, has been repurposed as a potential lifesaver for the island’s feline population.
Deaths of Feline friends
The virus is responsible for the deaths. A mutation causing Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), has posed a significant threat to the local cat community. The Cyprus Veterinarians Association began petitioning the government for access to the medication earlier this year as cases of FIP began to rise. The disease is nearly always fatal if left untreated. But with the new medication, there’s hope of nursing affected cats back to health in most cases.
Health Ministry Senior Pharmacist Costas Himonas announced 2,000 packages of the drug. It will be gradually made available to vets over the next month. Each package contains 40 capsules, totaling a potential 80,000 anti-Covid pills for feline treatment. Cat owners can receive the medication in pill form for €2.50 (£2.16) per pill from their local veterinary clinics after diagnosis.
Despite using a human Covid-19 drug. There is no risk of depleting the pharmaceutical stocks that would be required for treating any potential surges in Covid-19 cases in humans. The mutation responsible for FIP is not related to Covid-19 and cannot be transmitted to humans.
Nektaria Ioannou Arsenoglou, President of the Veterinarians Association, emphasized that previous epidemics of the feline coronavirus have eventually faded without the use of medication. However, the severity of the current outbreak prompted the need for this groundbreaking approach.
The virus spreads through contact with cat faeces. The measures are already in place to prevent the export of the mutation through mandatory medical check-ups for all felines destined for adoption abroad.
While the exact number of feral cats on the island remains unclear, Cyprus is renowned for its thriving feline population, which is cherished by both locals and tourists alike.
The introduction of the antiviral medication has taken place. There is newfound hope that the virus can be brought under control. By preserving the lives of countless cats and safeguarding the island’s unique feline culture.