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Guidance for owners of FIV+ cats
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Julia Beatty, University of Sydney. DOI: Provided by Morris Animal Foundation. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. Yamamoto has spent much of her career studying FIV and ways to combat it. It was in that lab that she and colleague Niels Pedersen co-discovered FIV in by isolating the virus from two healthy, disease-free — or specific-pathogen-free SPF — cats injected with blood from infected clinical cats.
Feline infectious enteritis (parvovirus, panleukopenia virus)
In their findings were published in the journal Science. Both are lentiviruses, which characteristically remain in the host for a long time, causing a slow progression toward death. It contains only 9, nucleotides, making it a comparatively small virus compared to a human cell which has up to 3. The LCIR has a relatively brief but impressive history of studies on comparative retrovirology, the study of retroviruses like the lentivirus.
Retroviruses can cause many diseases, including some cancers and AIDS. Initial funding for the LCIR was solely obtained from national and academic sources, such as the National Institutes of Health NIH , intramural, and foundation grants, for studying the origin and development of the feline leukemia virus and, later, FIV. When compared to the feline leukemia virus at left, the structural similarities between the feline immunodeficiency virus FIV and human immunodeficiency virus HIV are obvious in these electromicrograph images of mature virus.
Yamamoto says that clinically the viruses cause similar AIDS symptoms in cats and human, leading her to theorize that a vaccine strategy that works on cats with FIV can be used on humans with HIV.
The FIV model has several advantages for such studies:. Genetic analyses show that FIV has five main subtypes, thereby allowing for vaccine studies on subtype challenges from different species. If a queen intact female cat gets FIV while pregnant, she can pass it to the developing babies foetuses in the uterus.
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There is no cure for FIV. The use of antibiotics and supportive care may control the secondary infections as they occur, but nothing can cure the FIV infection itself. Have your cat tested if you are concerned she may have been exposed to this virus.
A second test Western Blot or PCR may be recommended if the initial screening test is positive in order to confirm infection. It is often prudent to test for Feline Leukemia Virus at the same time; many screening panels contain both virus tests. If you are going to adopt a stray cat, make sure you get a blood test before introducing the new cat to your home. Note that immature cats less than six months old can have a false positive test due to antibodies from their mother; so if a young cat tests positive, another test is done after six months of age to ensure it is a true infection and not residual antibodies from the mother cat.
A cat with FIV infection should be kept indoors and away from other cats it may fight with to help prevent spread of the disease. Cats are less able to fend for themselves when ill and may be injured more easily than healthy cats. Vaccination is not widely used in North America, and is not readily available to most veterinarians. The vaccine will make a cat test falsely positive on some tests, and so diagnosis after vaccination can be difficult. While the vaccine is more effective on strains of virus found in other parts of the world, it does not work as well on North American strains.