Feline immunodeficiency

What is feline immunodeficiency virus?

The virus was first isolated in 1986, it is a retrovirus that is closely related to HIV. Most cats are sensitive to FIV but humans are not.

It is an endemic virus in domestic cat populations around the world, but its prevalence varies greatly depending on the region in which we are.

Sick adult cats, male cats, and feral cats have been found to be most likely to be infected.

The good news is that this virus is not resistant in the environment, and outside the host it quickly loses its ability to produce infection. It is also a virus sensitive to almost all disinfectants, including soap.

how does infection occur?

Most infections are caused by biting, fighting, or mating with infected cats.

It has also been reported that dam-to-kitten transmission can occur, especially if the dam is suffering from an acute infection.

Cats that become infected with the immunodeficiency virus become permanently infected.

what signs are we going to observe in our cat?

Infected cats generally go through a very long asymptomatic phase that can last several years. During this phase, cats do not show any signs of disease, and many of them remain like this throughout their lives and never develop the disease.

When they occur, most of the clinical signs are not caused by the virus, but are a consequence of the immunodeficiency that it produces.

What we will be able to observe will be gingivostomatitis, lymphadenopathy, renal failure, chronic rhinitis, weight loss….

what to do when we have obtained a positive result?

A cat should never be euthanized simply because we have a positive result. Even if a cat is infected, it can live as long as an uninfected cat.

It is always recommended to castrate positive animals, since this considerably reduces aggressiveness and therefore bites. We must also take into account that they are animals that must go to the clinic for periodic check-ups at least every 6 months to carry out tests and weight controls.

How to prevent and control it?

There is a US-registered vaccine for IVF but there are no data on its efficacy. The vaccine produces antibodies against the virus that are detected by most of the available diagnostic tests, so when vaccinating it would invalidate the use of those tests.

If a positive case is detected in a house with several cats, the infected cat must be isolated. However, as the risk of infection through direct contact and sharing feeders and drinkers is very low, many owners decide not to separate the cat, in which case it would be very useful to have several feeders and drinkers since a large amount is released by saliva. of viruses.

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