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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Feline Morbillivirus: Clinical Relevance of a Widespread Endemic Viral Infection of Cats

Pennisi, Maria Grazia; Belak, Sandor; Tasker, Severine; Addie, Diane D.; Boucraut-Baralon, Corine; Egberink, Herman; Frymus, Tadeusz; Hartmann, Katrin; Hofmann-Lehmann, Regina; Lloret, Albert; Marsilio, Fulvio; Thiry, Etienne; Truyen, Uwe; Moestl, Karin; Hosie, Margaret J.


Feline morbillivirus (FeMV) was first isolated in 2012 from stray cats in Hong Kong. It has been found in association with tubulointerstitial nephritis (TIN), the most common cause of feline chronic kidney disease (CKD). However, viral host spectrum and virus tropism go beyond the domestic cat and kidney tissues. The viral genetic diversity of FeMV is extensive, but it is not known if this is clinically relevant. Urine and kidney tissues have been widely tested in attempts to confirm associations between FeMV infection and renal disease, but samples from both healthy and sick cats can test positive and some cross-sectional studies have not found associations between FeMV infection and CKD. There is also evidence for acute kidney injury following infection with FeMV. The results of prevalence studies differ greatly depending on the population tested and methodologies used for detection, but worldwide distribution of FeMV has been shown. Experimental studies have confirmed previous field observations that higher viral loads are present in the urine compared to other tissues, and renal TIN lesions associated with FeMV antigen have been demonstrated, alongside virus lymphotropism and viraemia-associated lymphopenia. Longitudinal field studies have revealed persistent viral shedding in urine, although infection can be cleared spontaneously.


FeMV; cat; urine; CKD; TIN; host spectrum; epidemiology; experimental infection; pathology; diagnosis

Published in

2023, Volume: 15, number: 10, article number: 2087
Publisher: MDPI

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Clinical Science

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