FSE is not common, and has so far only been reported in cats either in or originating from Britain. Most cases (over 60) have been reported in domestic cats, but several cases of FSE have also been documented in non-domestic cats; (pumas, cheetahs and an ocelot) in zoological collections.

Retrospective surveys of feline CNS material taken at necropsy suggest that FSE is a relatively new disease of cats. The first cases were reported in 1990, soon after the emergence of BSE in cattle.

Domestic cats that developed FSE have been fed a broad range of different proprietary cat foods and table scraps during their lifetime, so it is difficult to pinpoint the source of infection. One might, however, speculate that FSE has developed in domestic cats through exposure to BSE or a BSE-like agent.

At the time of writing, there are no published results available from attempts to produce experimental infections in cats using material from cattle with BSE. However, recent experiments aimed at typing BSE and FSE by mouse pathogenesis studies have shown that BSE is different from known scrapie strains but that BSE and FSE are indistinguishable.

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