The specialist-led team at a leading London animal hospital has saved the life of Nala, a young cat stricken with a coronavirus-style disease. Two-year-old Nala has made a full recovery after receiving two blood transfusions and a course of the drug Remdesivir, which is widely used to fight COVID-19 in humans. The internal medicine team at Linnaeus-owned London Vet Specialists (LVS), in Belsize Park, North London, led Nala’s treatment and has revealed the dramatic race against time to save her life.
Dr Mary Fletcher, an internal medicine intern, explained: “Nala as referred to LVS with not a moment to lose. Her circulating red blood cell count was low at 18 percent, compared to normal packed cell volume which should be between 30 percent and 52 percent.
“Nala received immediate supporting care in the form of medications and fluid therapy to make her a bit stronger, while thoracic and abdominal ultrasound scans were performed to identify the cause of her low red blood cell count.
“The ultrasound identified a pleural effusion (fluid around the lungs) which was impacting on Nala’s ability to breath effectively. There were also lots of abnormally large lymph nodes found within her abdomen. These abnormal areas were safely sampled using an ultrasound-guided technique, with Nala under sedation, unaware of the procedures being undertaken and free from any pain.
“Unfortunately, her blood cell count continued to drop to a dangerously low level. A lifesaving blood transfusion was administered which helped stabilise Nala for a few days but she continued to deteriorate and subsequently required a second blood transfusion.
The team at London Vet Specialists went onto to diagnose Nala with an immune-related disease caused by an underlying disease process.
“We suspected Nala was suffering from associative immune mediated haemolytic anaemia (IMHA), where her own body was destroying its red blood cells, secondary to an underlying disease process,” continued Mary. “That underlying disease was diagnosed as feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) which is caused by a mutation of the virus, a relative of, but not identical to, the human variant.
“FIP is not transmissible to people but historically it has been a fatal disease in cats. In recent years, though, Remdesivir has emerged as a very effective anti-viral drug for successful treatment for cats, and in the human field for COVID-19 patients, so Nala was soon ready to be discharged home.
“Three months later, we’re all delighted Nala is fully recovered, finished with all her medications and back to her old self.”
The London Vet Specialists hospital is a multidisciplinary referral facility which offers expert care in anaesthesia and analgesia, critical care, cardiology, dermatology, diagnostic imaging, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology and surgery.
For more information about London Vet Specialists, and the services it offers, visit the website.