Thursday, September 11, 2014


FELINE IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS INFECTION (FIV) IN CATS

 ~ Smokie ~
A 14 year old cat, diagnosed with
FIV at 1 year old

The feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection is a complex retrovirus that causes immunodeficiency disease in domestic cats. Immunodeficiency is the medical term used to describe the body’s inability to develop a normal immune response. FIV is slow moving, capable of lying dormant in the body before causing symptoms.
FIV is a transmissible disease that occurs more often in
males because of their tendency to be more aggressive, and because they are more likely to roam, thereby increasing their exposure to the virus.
SYMPTOMS
  • Decreased ability to develop a normal immune response.
  • Recurring minor illnesses, especially with upper respiratory and gastrointestinal signs
  • Mild to moderately enlarged lymph nodes
  • Gingivitis causing Inflammation of the gums.
  • Upper respiratory including - inflammation of the nose; inflammation of the moist tissues of the eye; inflammation of the cornea often associated with feline herpes virus and calicivirus infections
  • Long-term/chronic kidney issues
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Long-term, nonresponsive, or recurrent infections of the external ear and skin resulting from bacterial or fungal infections
  • Cancer (such as lymphoma, a type of cancer that develops from lymphoid tissue, including lymphocytes, a type of white-blood cell formed in lymphatic tissues throughout the body)
CAUSES 
  • Cat-to-cat transmission; usually through bite wounds and scratches
  • Occasional transmission of the virus at the time of birth
  • Sexual transmission is uncommon, although FIV has been detected in semen
DIAGNOSIS
Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your cat, taking into account the background history of symptoms and possible incidents that might have caused this condition. A small amount of blood will be drawn to perform an 'ELISA' test.  This FIV test is routinely carried out in veterinary practices which detects antibodies, which develop four to six weeks after infection.
TREATMENT
 Unless your cat is severely dehydrated, it will be treated on an outpatient basis. Your veterinarian will first work to manage any secondary infections. While secondary infections will not usually cause disease, your cat’s weakened immune system can cause further complications in your cat’s overall health. Surgery may be necessary for dealing with infected teeth and for the removal of tumors. A special diet plan may also need to be put into place.
LIVING AND MANAGEMENT
The amount of monitoring your cat will need from you depends on secondary infections and other manifestations of the disease. You will need to watch for the occurrence of any infections. In general, the earlier FIV is detected, the better your cat’s chances are for living a long and relatively healthy life.
PERVENTION
In order to prevent this disease from occurring in the first place, you should protect your cat from coming into contact with cats that are FIV positive. You will also want to quarantine and test new cats that are coming into your household until you are sure that they are free of the virus. It is important to note that some cats will test positive for FIV if they are carriers, although they may never have symptoms of the virus, and that cats that have been vaccinated against the virus will test positive for it even though they do not carry it. Euthanasia is not normally called for when a cat has tested positive in part because of these reasons. If your cat has tested positive you will need to talk to your veterinarian about what to do to prevent possible transmission to other cats, and what symptoms to watch for, should they occur.