Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is one of the top five killers of domestic cats in the U.S. In fact 3% of healthy cats were reported to have contracted the disease in the year 1999. FIV is a fatal disease and interestingly enough most FIV cats don’t die of the disease it self by by other infections caused by their lowed immune system. FIV causes a deficiency in the immune system and makes cats very susceptible to a huge variety of medical problems basically because they have no fighting power.
Signalment- ” Bella” Smith; 4 year old S/F DMH
Chief Complaint- not eating, diarrhea, sudden unfriendliness
History- Owner says Bella has been acting unfriendly for about two weeks (e.g. wont let owner pet or hold her anymore, also she hides under the bed constantly) owner also says Bella’s appetite has gone very low, she used to feed her one cup of dry every morning and one half a can of wet food at night and now she wont eat hardly any of either’. Owner has seen diarrhea in litter box for 3 days. Bella had her kitten shots and boosters but no Hx of fiv/felv testing, deforming, fecal or blood analysis.
S qar; mm=pink; poor coat w/ matted sections
Ot=103.6, p=44, r=48, CRT=; 4 sec., *** FIV/FeLV test positive (+) for FIV.
A Bella is FIV+
P* FIV tested +; *hospitalization for observation; *200 ml Normasol fluids SQ then *iv fluids @150ml/hr, 3 ml vit B complex added; urinalysis to be performed in a.m. after completion of fluid therapy.
“Feline Retro Virus Testing and Management”
Compendium magazine July 2001
This article explains how to test for and care for FIV. The only way to prevent your cat from contracting FIV is by preventing contact with FIV infected cats.
FIV testing is the best thing to do whenever your cat gets sick, no matter if they have tested negative for the disease before. Cats of all ages should be tested because it is so hard to know if your cat has come in contact with infected cats. “Infected cats may remain symptomatic for years during which time they may serve as unapparent sources of infection to other cats in the household”(Mary Tompkins, DVM, PhD). Basically if you have a cat, or cats, and u want to get another it is in the best interests of you and each one of the cats to be tested for FIV to ensure their heath and safety.
The tests that are available to sense FIV detect antibodies directed against the virus. It usually takes 60 days after a cat is infected for a cat to develop these antibodies to test positive. The ELISA snap test is the most frequently used and preferred test on the market because of its speed and accuracy.
Unfortunately there is no “cure” or treatment available for FIV. FIV -infected cats often live long lives and usually die of other infections caused by their lowed immune system. The disease causes the cats’ immune system to deteriorate so they are very susceptible to a huge number of secondary infections. Some examples include FeLV, chronic parasitism, incontinence, cryptococcosis, seizures, and many more.
It is relatively simple to manage an infected cat; keep confined to indoors. It is also important to have regular check ups at least once a year but twice a year would be best. In addition, good nutrition and a well balanced diet are essential to keep any cat healthy.
Composed by the American Association of Feline Practitioners
“Virologists classify feline immunodeficiency virus (fiv) as a lentivirus, or a slow’ virus.” FIV- infected cats are found world wide, but the commonness of infection is what varies. In the United States, about 1.5 to 3 percent of healthy cats are infected with FIV. Because bite wounds are the most effective means of infection, feral (stray) aggressive, male cats are the most frequently infected, at the same time as indoor only cats are much less likely to be infected. On rare occasions infected queens can pass the disease on to her kittens through placenta and/ or her milk. Although FIV is a lentivirus similar to HIV (the human immunodeficiency virus) and causes a disease in cats similar to AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) in humans, it is a highly species-specific virus that infects only felines.
Although infected cats can appear healthy for years the disease eventually leads to a state of immune deficiency that stops the cats ability to protect its self against other infections. Common signs of FIV can include some or all of the following: poor coat condition and persistent fever with a loss of appetite; gingivitis, stomatitis, and chronic infections of the skin, urinary bladder, and upper respiratory tract; persistent diarrhea; eye problems; weight loss.
Unfortunately, many FIV-infected cats are not diagnosed until after they have lived for years with other cats. In such cases, all the other cats in the household should be tested, as well. Ideally, all infected cats should be separated from the noninfected ones to eliminate the potential for FIV transmission. If this is not possible-and if fighting or rough play is not taking place-the risk to the non-infected cats appears to be low.
How should FIV-infected cats be managed?***
FIV-infected cats should be confined indoors to prevent spread of FIV infection to other cats in the neighborhood and to reduce their exposure to infectious agents carried by other animals.
FIV-infected cats should be spayed or neutered.
They should be fed nutritionally complete and balanced diets.
Uncooked food, such as raw meat and eggs, and unpasturized dairy products should not be fed to FIV-infected cats because the risk of food-borne bacterial and parasitic infections is much higher in immunosuppressed cats.
Wellness visits for FIV-infected cats should be scheduled with your veterinarian at least every six months. Although a detailed physical examination of all body systems will be performed, your veterinarian will pay special attention to the health of the gums, eyes, skin, and lymph nodes. Your cat’s weight will be measured accurately and recorded, because weight loss is often the first sign of deterioration. A complete blood count, serum biochemical analysis, and a urine analysis should be performed annually.
Vigilance and close monitoring of the health and behavior of FIV-infected cats is even more important than it is for uninfected cats. Alert your veterinarian to any changes in your cat’s health as soon as possible.
There is no evidence from controlled scientific studies to show that immunomodulator, alternative, or antiviral medications have any positive benefits on the health or longevity of healthy FIV-infected cats. However, some antiviral therapies have been shown to benefit some FIV-infected cats with seizures or stomatitis.
What I learned
The Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, sometimes called the Feline AIDS Virus, is likened to the AIDS virus, which affects humans. FIV has a worldwide distribution and it is estimated that 1 – 2% of cats are positive for the virus. Fortunately, these viruses are species specific – that is an animal other than another cat cannot contract the virus from the infected cat. FIV is transmitted primarily through bite wounds that occur in catfights. Other interactions of cats, such as sharing common food and water bowls or grooming each other, have not been shown to be significant in transmission.
The most common symptom is a severe infection affecting the gums around the teeth. Other symptoms include abscesses from fight wounds which would normally heal within a week or two may remain active for several months; respiratory infections may linger for weeks; weight loss and periods of not eating well; the hair coat may become scruffy; the cat may have episodes of treatment-resistant diarrhea; dehydration; and swollen lymph glands. Evidence of exposure to the FIV can be detected by a simple blood test by your veterinarian. Unfortunately, there appears to be no cure for this virus. However, the disease state can sometimes be treated with antibiotics or with drugs to stimulate the immune system restoring the cat to relatively good health. While the long-term prognosis is poor, infected cats may experience prolonged periods of reasonably good health and live reasonably long lives.
To prevent passing of this virus it is recommended that male cats be neutered and your cat be kept indoors. There are no vaccines currently available to prevent the infection of this virus.
“FIV FAQs”Prepared by the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the Cornell Feline Health Center, Cornell University, College of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, New York 14853-6401. The center is committed to improving the health of cats by developing methods to prevent or cure feline diseases and by providing continuing education to veterinarians and cat owners. Much of that work is made possible by the financial support of friends. 2003 by Cornell Feline Health Center. All rights reserved. Cornell University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action educator and employer.
“Feline Retro Virus Testing and Management”Compendium magazine July 2001
*** “How should FIV- infected cats be managed?” Macy, Dennis. The cat: diseases and clinical management, 2nd edition, Robert Sherding editing, Churchill Livingston, NY, 1994