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Open Access Research article

An eight-year epidemiologic study based on baculovirus-expressed type-specific spike proteins for the differentiation of type I and II feline coronavirus infections

Ying-Ting Wang1, Ling-Ling Chueh1* and Cho-Hua Wan2*

Author Affiliations

1 Graduate Institute of Veterinary Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei 10617, Taiwan

2 Graduate Institute of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei 10617, Taiwan

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BMC Veterinary Research 2014, 10:186  doi:10.1186/s12917-014-0186-7

Published: 15 August 2014



Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a fatal disease caused by feline coronavirus (FCoV). FCoVs are divided into two serotypes with markedly different infection rates among cat populations around the world. A baculovirus-expressed type-specific domain of the spike proteins of FCoV was used to survey the infection of the two viruses over the past eight years in Taiwan.


An immunofluorescence assay based on cells infected with the recombinant viruses that was capable of distinguishing between the two types of viral infection was established. A total of 833 cases from a teaching hospital was surveyed for prevalence of different FCoV infections. Infection of the type I FCoV was dominant, with a seropositive rate of 70.4%, whereas 3.5% of cats were infected with the type II FCoV. In most cases, results derived from serotyping and genotyping were highly agreeable. However, 16.7% (4/24) FIP cats and 9.8% (6/61) clinically healthy cats were found to possess antibodies against both viruses. Moreover, most of the cats (84.6%, 22/26) infected with a genotypic untypable virus bearing a type I FCoV antibody.


A relatively simple serotyping method to distinguish between two types of FCoV infection was developed. Based on this method, two types of FCoV infection in Taiwan was first carried out. Type I FCoV was found to be predominant compared with type II virus. Results derived from serotyping and genotyping support our current understanding of evolution of disease-related FCoV and transmission of FIP.

Seroprevalence; Feline coronavirus; Baculovirus; Recombinant protein