FIV – Feline Aids

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) – by Dr Phil Sacks

  • Both viruses have been around relatively similar time frames (HIV since 1981 FIV isolated first in1987)
  • Both affects similar cell types
  • The disease course has a similar time progression
  • And also similar clinical signs and outcome
  • The hallmark of FIV infection is progressive disruption of immune function (by virus-induced depletion of CD41 T lymphocytes in blood)

But differences between HIV and FIV are:

  • FIV is generally transmitted by saliva -especially cat bites
  • “Sexually” – the male bites the female during mating – saliva transmission
  • The males fight over the females and bite each other (so kind of sexual transmission)
  • FIV is NOT transmissible to man
  • There is a vaccine available for feline aids or FIV
  • Is a common infectious diseases of cats. About 8 % of pet cats in Sydney Australia have antibodies to FIV or are FIV positive..
  • Cats infected with FIV may live normally for many years
  • A decision for euthanasia should never be based solely on whether or not the cat is infected.
  • Vaccination against FIV is recommended in kittens
  • In adult cats, Aids vaccines are considered “non-core” and should be administered only if a risk assessment indicates they are appropriate
  • Clinical signs include anaemia, lymphoid tumors, chronic inflammatory conditions, and susceptibility to infections
  • FIV-infected cats also appear to respond adequately to vaccination
  • FIV produces a persistent, life-long infection, so detection of antibodies in peripheral blood has been judged sufficient for routine diagnostic screening if the cat has not been previously vaccinated
  • Most cats produce antibodies to FIV within 60 days
  • Both FeLV-infected and FIV-infected cats can live many years with proper care and may succumb at older ages from causes unrelated to their retrovirus infections
  • The median survival of the FIV-infected cats was 4.9 years compared to 6.0 years for the control cats

Dr Phil’s summary: Many FIV positive cats live a normal, good quality life. The common clinical signs are oral and gum disease and enlarged lymphnodes. Dr Phil recommends testing adult cats and vaccinating those that are not infected.

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