Skip to main content

Clinically Diseased Cats with Non-suppurative Meningoencephalomyelitis have Borna Disease Virus-specific Antibodies


A spontaneous neurological disease in cats characterized by behavioural and motor disturbances was reported in Sweden by Kronevi et al (1974). Generally, the animals showed no gross pathological lesions. Detailed neuro-pathological investigation revealed mononuclear perivascular cuffing and gliosis throughout the brain and spinal cord consistent with a non-suppurative meningoencephalomyelitis. After this first report, the disease has become recognized in different parts of Sweden, preferably Uppland and the area around Lake Mälaren, and is referred to as “staggering disease” of cats. The clinical manifestation of the disease includes hindleg ataxia and paresis (Fig. 1), inability to retract the claws (Fig. 2), mental changes, anorexia, increased salivation, hypersensitivity to sound and light, hyperesthesia, impaired vision and seizures (Kronevi et al 1974, Ström et al 1992). Despite treatment with antimicrobial drugs and corticosteroids most cats deteriorate and die or have to be euthanised after 1-4 weeks of illness.


  • Bode L, Riegel S, Lange W, Ludwig H: Human infections with Borna Disease virus: Seroprevalence in patients with chronic diseases and healthy individuals. J. Med. Virol. 1992, 36, 309–315.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Briese T, de la Torre JC, Lewis A, Ludwig H, Lipkin WL: Borna disease, a negative-strand RNA virus, transcribes in the nucleus of infected cells. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA (Neurobiol.) 1992, in press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kronevi T, Nordström M, Moreno W, Nilsson PO: Feline ataxia due to nonsuppurative meningoen-cephalomyelitis of unknown aetiology. Nord. Vet. -Med. 1974, 26, 720–725.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Leestma JE: Viral infections of the nervous system. In: Textbook of neuropathology, 2 ed. Davis RL & Robertson DM (Eds.), Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore 1991, pp. 804–903.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ludwig H, Kraft W, Kao M, Gosztonyi G, Dahme E, Krey HF: Die Borna-Krankheit bei natürlich und experimentell infizierten Tieren: ihre Bedeutung für Forschung und Praxis. (Borna Disease virus infection in naturally and experimentally infected animals: its importance in research and practice). Tierärztl. Praxis 1985, 13, 421–453.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Ludwig H, Bode L, Gosztonyi G: Borna Disease: a persistent virus infection of the central nervous system. Prog. Med. Virol. 1988, 35, 107–151.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Lundgren A-L: Feline non-suppurative meningoencephalomyelitis: a clinical and pathological study. J. Comp. Pathol. 1992, in press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ström B, Andren B, Lundgren A-L: Idiopathic nonsuppurative meningoencephalomyelitis (Staggering disease) in the Swedish cat: a study of 33 cases. Europ. J. Compan. Anim. Practice. 1992, 3, 9–13.

    Google Scholar 

Download references


This study was supported by the Swedish Fund for Research Without Animal Experiments (A-L Lundgren) and by the Deutsche Forschungsgemenschaft (H Ludwig, Lu 142/5-1). We are grateful to Gerard Czech and Liv Bode for support and discussions.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Lundgren, AL., Ludwig, H. Clinically Diseased Cats with Non-suppurative Meningoencephalomyelitis have Borna Disease Virus-specific Antibodies. Acta Vet Scand 34, 101–103 (1993).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: