Column: The Fight Against FIP, a Case for Opal

By Morgan Pennington
Guest Contributor

Photo by Morgan Pennington.

As many of you know, I lost my sweet Owen just a few months ago. He was the cutest little lover boy and truly changed my life during the short time we had together. He was diagnosed with FIP, a mutation of the coronavirus which all cats carry.

It was deemed to be an incurable disease with no medication or treatment that could help him. The origin of Feline Infectious Peritonitis is unclear, but it’s currently not thought to be a contagious illness; any cat who develops it is simply and sadly unlucky. FIP is so rare, only affecting 1 out of every 5,000 cats.

After three weeks of fighting, three weeks of all of your love and prayers, Owen still, unfortunately, lost his battle as his organs began to shut down. He was only 9 months old. Enduring his decline was one of the most infuriating times of my life. I was sure I would never have to go through the pain of watching an animal suffer from this disease ever again.

With encouragement from friends and family and so much love in my heart to give, I adopted another baby. Her name is Opal. I have had her for three amazing kitten filled months! A week ago, I noticed Opal acting lethargic and not wanting to eat or drink. I took her to the vet, thinking it would be a routine visit for a sick cat. Surely it couldn’t be FIP. That’s just too rare. What are the chances? …Let’s just say I wish I had the same luck with winning the lottery as I do with adopting little ones destined not to live for long. Yep. She was diagnosed with FIP. Another death sentence for another kitten. Or so I thought…

There is a medicine out there, folks. And it works! In a nutshell, GS-441524 is a Japanese antiviral drug that ultimately prevents the RNA of the FIP virus from reproducing and invading more cells in the body. It is an adenine analog, taking the place of the nucleotide in proteins that otherwise might be infected by FIP, and terminates the chain that would produce a protein carrying FIP.

GS was initially developed and used in Asian countries to fight the human SARS outbreak in the early 2000s. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and FIP both develop from the coronavirus, and eventually, the connection was made that the treatment for SARS may have a similar success rate in the treatment of FIP – and it has. GS has been proven to return FIP cats back to their pre-diagnosis selves. Better appetites, shinier fur, easier breathing, better eyesight.

This treatment for cats is so rare that it hasn’t yet been approved by the FDA in the United States. This means you can’t get it through your vet. After tons of research, I was lucky enough to manage to get my hands on some of this medicine to see if it will possibly help my Opal. After only three days of treatment, she is eating again, drinking again, playing again, and has no fever at all! Truly a miracle! Her specific case of FIP presented an ocular lesion in the anterior chamber of her right eye. It’s been cloudy, and it filled with blood around the time I took her into the vet. In the past few days with the help of GS, the blood has disappeared from in front of the iris in her eye. If it weren’t for this medicine, Opal wouldn’t be sitting next to me as I create this GoFundMe.

Each bottle of GS can treat Opal for five days, and its price averages $300 per vial. She must receive treatment for 12 weeks, a full 84 days. After 12 weeks of treatment, recovering cats have gone into remission, but any cat unable to receive all 84 injections risks relapse. Opal will need 17 bottles to complete treatment, priced around $5,000 total.

The Fight for Opal GoFundMe Link

As of Thursday, July 18, Pennington has raised $1,605 of $3,500.

I will be working overtime and picking up as many shifts as I can to work hard to make the money I need to help her. I’ve already purchased the first four bottles to begin her lifesaving treatment immediately and will be purchasing more this week as they become available. With a little help, we can beat Opal’s FIP. She can beat the thing that took sweet Owen and so many other cats way too soon. Studying Opal and her progress will help other cats who are diagnosed in the future. She very well might be the first cat in Mississippi to survive this disease using this medication. She will be a miracle kitty and a true testament to the power of GS and its importance in the veterinary community. Join me in helping Opal beat FIP. She and I both will be forever grateful. Any donations that exceed what we need for Opal will go to further the research for fighting FIP.

Below are links to the online community and information that have helped me every step of the way:

Feline Infectious Peritonitis

FIP is associated with a viral infection called feline coronavirus. There are many different strains of feline coronavirus, which differ in their ability to cause disease. Feline enteric coronavirus strains can mutate to the more harmful type of virus and cause FIP disease.

Human antiviral ‘GS-441524’ shows great promise against infectious disease in cats

The emergence of exotic diseases such as Ebola and SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in people has prompted intensive research into new drug treatments, and this is indirectly bringing benefit to cats. Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is one of a number of chronic viral infections of cats that resemble those in people, and is estimated to kill up to 1.4% of cats around the world.

FIP Cats Treated with New Antiviral Drugs in Clinical Trials Go Into Remission

MEMBER NOTICE: As of October 15, 2019 only receipts that are less than 1 year old will be accepted. This means receipts older than 1 year will not be processed for points rewards. The clinical trial at the University Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery .


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