Rustrela virus, according to a recent publication (Matiasek et al., 2023), is connected to “staggering disease” in cats, which presents with non-purulent, lymphohistiocytic meningoencephalomyelitis. The symptoms include hind leg ataxia with increased muscle tone, but also other neurological signs like abnormal body posture, stiff gait, weakness in the hind limb, tetraparesis, tremor, seizures, etc. In some cases, fever, salivation, hyperaesthesia, behavioral changes, opisthotonus and reduced spinal reflexes can be observed. The disease is progressive, and most cats have to be euthanised within a period of up to 2 months after onset of the first clinical signs.
Mice are suspected as a possible reservoir of the pathogens. Infected cats do not appear to shed the virus. So far, the virus could only be detected in the brain (and in some cases in peripheral nerves). Currently, it is unclear if central-nervous fluid could be used as sample material, and this has to be investigated in further studies.