[Thank you ProMed for crediting the blog with the article I posted.]
Date: Wed 14 Aug 2013
Source: Pandemic Information News (translation) [summ., edited]
MERS-CoV kills 3 cats in the Eastern Region of Saudi Arabia
A veterinary clinic in the eastern region [of Saudi Arabia] has recorded 3 deaths of cats infected with corona[virus] in 4 months.
According to the newspaper "Middle," the director of the clinic, Dr Khalid Ambassav explained that cats died for their inability to resist the virus. They suddenly stopped eating, had high body temperature above 40 deg C [104 deg F], "increased fluid in the cat's body, bulging stomach, lack of balance and inability to walk, and cirrhosis of the liver, and destroyed kidneys", resulting in the death in a period not exceeding 3 days.
Source in Arabic: Hasanews, 14 Aug 2013 http://www.hasanews.com/c-43924/#.Ugtbg2TXiDM
[It is not clear on what basis the disease in the 3 cats is ascribed -- at least in the title of the report -- to MERS coronavirus, the causal agent of a fatal human disease. The veterinary authorities involved in the investigation of the cases may help clarifying the matter.
Severe respiratory disease in cats was reported earlier from Jordan, around December 2012. The communicator suggested excluding the possible involvement of coronavirus [MERS-CoV] vector (see ProMED-mail posting 20130519.1723544). The report was accompanied by the following comment by Mod.CP:
"The _Coronaviridae_ is a very diverse group of viruses. A worldwide, well known disease entity caused by a coronavirus in cats is feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). FIP virus is an _Alphacoronavirus_. The novel "Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus" (MERS-CoV), detected in human patients in several Middle Eastern countries, including Jordan, belongs to a different genus, namely _Betacoronavirus_."
For a description of FIP, see http://www.healthcommunities.com/feline-infectious-peritonitis/symptoms.shtml.
So far, no animal species has been found as the maintenance host or vector of MERS-CoV. Bats have been mentioned as possible and plausible candidates. Later, camels have been suspected.
Last October , reportedly a team of scientists from the Saudi Ministry of Health, Columbia University, and EcoHealth Alliance began scouring Saudi towns near where cases of MERS had been reported. Samples were taken predominantly from bats. Camels, goats, sheep, and cats, which (at least, theoretically) might act as intermediate hosts, picking up the virus from bats and then infecting people, were sampled as well (see ProMED-mail posting 20130706.1810714). Results of the said investigations are pending.- Mod.AS