What Are Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus?
Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is contagious among cats. It enter specific cells in the body and destroy them, FeLV enters certain cells in a cat’s body and changes the cells’ genetic characteristics to causing cancer. This permits FeLV to continue reproducing within the cat each time infected cells divide. It allows FeLV to become dormant (inactive) in some cats, making disease transmission and prognosis (outlook) difficult to predict.
Like FeLV, feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is also contagious among cats, and a cat can be infected with FIV for many years without showing any clinical signs of illness. Although FIV is not contagious to humans, FIV has some similarities to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and has been used to help researchers better understand HIV.
FeLV and FIV infections are two of the most important infectious diseases of cats worldwide. Recent indicate that estimates 3 million cats in the United States harbor, one or both of these two viruses. Once infected, a cat usually dies within about three years.
How Do Cats Become Infected With FeLV and FIV?
FeLV is generally transmitted through contact with saliva from an infected cat. Certain social behaviors such as mutual grooming and sharing food or water bowls can spread the disease. Kittens can become infected during fetal development or during the first days of life as their mothers nurse and care for them.
Like FeLV, FIV is also transmitted through contact with saliva from an infected cat. However, most cats contract FIV through bite wounds sustained during fights with FIV-infected cats rather than through social behaviors. Because of territorial behavior and related aggression of cats (particularly male cats) roaming outside tends to increase the risk for exposure to FIV.
Signs of FeLV and FIV
Not every cat that becomes infected with FeLV develops clinical signs with the virus. The immune system of some cats can eliminate the infection before the cat becomes sick. In other cats, the virus can “hide” in the bone marrow, where it is difficult to detect until it begins to cause problems later in life. Other cats become carriers of the disease or experience various illnesses and immune suppression before eventually dying of FeLV-associated complications.
Like cats with FeLV infection, FIV-positive cats don’t always show clinical signs. Some FIV-positive cats can live a relatively normal life span after becoming infected. Similar to HIV, FIV causes illness by attacking the patient’s immune system. Therefore, FIV-infected cats tend to develop clinical signs related to secondary (related) infections and not necessarily due to FIV.
Clinical signs associated with FeLV or FIV infection can be very similar and surprisingly variable, including the following:
#Chronic respiratory infection
#Chronic dental, oral, and gum infections
Some FeLV-positive cats also go on to develop bone marrow problems and certain cancers. FIV also has a wide ranging group of symptoms. Since the immune system is depressed, the mouth can become inflamed, there can be loss of weight due to chronic diarrhea, fevers, enlargement of the lymph glands, chronic abscesses and cystitis (urinary tract infection), chronic eye and skin infections.
#Available vaccines can prevent disease associated with FeLV and prevent infection with FIV.
#Cats that go outside are at greater risk for exposure to FeLV and FIV compared with cats that stay indoors.
#Any new kitten or cat being introduced into the home should be tested as soon as possible and separated from all other household pets for a quarantine period of at least a few weeks.
#Take out the cassette from the foil pouch and place it horizontally.
#If using the whole blood as sample, please do a dilution of 1:1 with the provided assay buffer.
#Gradually drip 3 drops of sample extraction into the sample hole “S”.
#Interpret the result in 5-10 minutes.