Going out may be the thrill of an indoor/outdoor cat’s day. But going outside, comes with many health risk. One of them is Feline leukemia virus or FeLV. This virus is a common infection of cats. It is one of the biggest viral causes of cat deaths and is widespread in the cat population.  

Disease Transmission

FeLV transmission most commonly occurs through close, social contact. Contact with saliva from infected cats is a primary mode of transmission, because the concentration of virus is high in saliva. But virus is also shed in blood, urine, feces, nasal secretions, and milk. Sharing food and water dishes, using the same litterbox, mutual grooming, and bite wounds are all possible methods of transmission. Infected queens can infect fetuses during pregnancy. Infected queens can infect neonates when the babies drink the infected milk. Transmission  can also happen via blood transfusions or contaminated needles/instruments.

Disease

There are four separate classes of infection: abortive, regressive, latent, and progressive.

Diagnostic Tests

In-Hospital FIV/FeLV test that can be checked in minutes shown above

Necessary diagnostic tests may include blood chemistry, hematology, radiography, bone marrow aspiration, ophthalmoscopy, and specialized antibody tests.

Treatment

There is no effective treatment for the myeloproliferative (bone marrow) form of leukemia. Treatment is mainly supportive, and may require blood transfusions, prednisone, and anabolic steroids.

FeLV cancer (lymphoma) has a better response to therapy than the myeloproliferative diseases do. Treatment may include chemotherapy, glucocorticoids, interferon, Protein A, and supportive treatment.

Prognosis

The prognosis for infected cats is highly variable. It depends upon the specific disease the cat gets during the course of infection and the availability of supportive treatment for secondary infections. A small percentage of FeLV-positive cats may remain healthy for several years, but the prognosis for persistently FeLV-positive cats is poor, as most of the infected cats living within cluster households will die within three years from the time of diagnosis.

Prevention Of FeLV

There are several preventive measures that can be taken to decrease the risk of contracting FeLV. Routine testing, as well as vaccination of cats determined to be at risk, are key factors in FeLV prevention.

The prognosis for infected cats is highly variable, depending on the specific disease manifested during the course of infection and the availability of supportive treatment for secondary infections. Although a small percentage of FeLV-positive cats may remain healthy for several years, the prognosis for persistently FeLV-positive cats is poor. Most persistently infected cats living within cluster households are expected to die within three years from the time of diagnosis.

Notes

Retroviruses (the type of virus that FeLV is) are unstable, live for only minutes outside the cat’s body, and are readily destroyed by most disinfectants.

Because the feline leukemia virus is so unstable, a new, healthy cat can be brought safely into a “contaminated” house within days of the departure of an FeLV-infected cat.

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