Cause of a mysterious deadly disease of cats is revealed

(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of scientists from Germany, Austria and Sweden has discovered a virus that causes a mysterious deadly disease in domestic cats in Europe.

Preliminary results of the study, which reveal the cause of the “reeling” disease, are posted in the bioRxiv preprint archive.

Initially, experts assumed that the “reeling” disease was caused by the Borna disease virus, but subsequent studies did not confirm this idea.

In a new study, scientists analyzed the brains of 29 euthanized cats in Europe and found no evidence of Borna virus DNA, but found traces of the rustrela virus in 28 animals. This virus is a relative of the virus that causes rubella.

The neurological disease that affects pets has been known to experts for almost half a century, but in 2020 its outbreak led to cases of death from encephalitis in a wide variety of animals, including capybaras, donkeys and tree kangaroos.

Symptoms in cats include loss of claw retraction, tremors, loss of limb control, and seizures. Affected animals have a staggering gait, which is why the infection was nicknamed “staggering”.

The infection, for which there is no cure, progresses within two weeks, but it is not known when the terminal stage occurs, since most animals are euthanized.

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