Circulation and genetic diversity of feline coronavirus type I and II from clinically healthy and FIP-suspected cats in China.
Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a fatal infectious disease of wild and domestic cats, and the occurrence of FIP is frequently reported in China. To trace the evolution of type I and II feline coronavirus in China, 115 samples of ascetic fluid from FIP-suspected cats and 54 fecal samples from clinically healthy cats were collected from veterinary hospitals in China. The presence of FCoV in the samples was detected by RT-PCR targeting the 6b gene. The results revealed that a total of 126 (74.6%, 126/169) samples were positive for FCoV: 75.7% (87/115) of the FIP-suspected samples were positive for FCoV, and 72.2% (39/54) of the clinically healthy samples were positive for FCoV. Of the 126 FCoV-positive samples, 95 partial S genes were successfully sequenced. The partial S gene-based genotyping indicated that type I FCoV and type II FCoV accounted for 95.8% (91/95) and 4.2% (4/95), respectively. The partial S gene-based phylogenetic analyses showed that the 91 type I FCoV strains exhibited genetic diversity; the four type II FCoV strains exhibited a close relationship with type II FCoV strains from Taiwan. Three type I FCoV strains, HLJ/HRB/2016/10, HLJ/HRB/2016/11 and HLJ/HRB/2016/13, formed one potential new clade in the nearly complete genome-based phylogenetic trees. Further analysis revealed that FCoV infection appeared to be significantly correlated with a multi-cat environment (p<0.01) and with age (p<0.01). The S gene of the three type I FCoV strains identified in China, BJ/2017/27, BJ/2018/22 and XM/2018/04, exhibited a six nucleotide deletion (C4035AGCTC4040). Our data provide evidence that type I and type II FCoV strains co-circulate in the FIP-affected cats in China. Type I FCoV strains exhibited high prevalence and genetic diversity in both FIP-affected cats and clinically healthy cats, and a multi-cat environment and age (<6 months) were significantly associated with FCoV infection.