Feline Tlymphocytic Virus

Feline T-lymphotropic Virus (FTLV), an AIDS-like virus was discovered in cats in 1986. It suppresses the immune system and results in increased susceptibility to a wide variety of infections. As this virus was discovered recently, it is known by several names: the feline T-lymphotropic lentivirus, the AIDS-like virus, the Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and feline AIDS. FTLV has since been notorious as an endemic disease in domestic cats throughout the globe.

Some Signs of Feline T-lymphotropic Virus

An AIDS-like syndrome is the most common form of the disease: progressively worsening gum inflammation, periodontal disease, sinus infections, weight loss, anemia, chronic intermittent diarrhea, neurologist and chronic poor healing or recurrent infections of the skin and ears. The pre-AIDS signs – enlarged lymph nodes, persistent low-grade fever, and a very low count of WBC usually precede the other clinical signs. FTLV-positive cats that do not show any signs of illness (symptomatic) have a good chance of survival as long as they remain asymptomatic. Keep the FTLV-positive cat indoors so that the virus will not be spread to other cats. FTLV is closely related to AIDS. There is no way for a human to pick up FTLV from a cat.

Transmission of Feline T-lymphotropic Virus

Deep bite wounds and scratches are the main modes of transmitting FTLV. Through these scratches, cuts, and wounds, the saliva of the infected cat enters the bloodstream of another cat. This virus may also be transmitted from pregnant females to their fetuses.

Diagnosis of Feline T-lymphotropic Virus

A cat’s history and clinical signs will be checked by a veterinarian. Blood tests will also be administered. It is noteworthy that this testing identifies the cats carrying the FLTV antibody and not the actual virus. Thus, a positive result of the FLTV test does not essentially mean the cat is a carrier of FLTV.

Vaccine of Feline T-lymphotropic Virus

Developing an effective vaccine against FLTV is a challenge as there are numerous variations of the virus strains. A dual-subtype vaccine for FLTV was released in 2002. It helped in immunizing cats against more FLTV strains. This vaccine was developed by using inactivated isolates of two of the five FLTV subtypes. Subtype A has no concrete protection by this vaccine but against two different subtype B FLTV strains, the same vaccine has shown 100% effectiveness. Vaccination makes cats result positively on FLTV tests. This makes the diagnosis more complex. It is because of these reasons that the vaccine is considered non-core. Thus, before vaccinating your cat, discuss with a veterinarian and talk about the risks and the effectiveness.

Treatment of Feline T-lymphotropic Virus

Therapy of secondary infections related to FLTV is based on the clinical signs and the character of the infectious agent. Using antimicrobial (antibacterial or antifungal) drugs for bacterial and fungal infection control has been quite successful but must be continued for long periods. Blood transfusions, intravenous fluids, and high-caloric dietary supplements are frequently required. The use of corticosteroids or other anti-inflammatory drugs may be indicated in a few cases. Anabolic steroids may help to fight weight loss and wasting. It must be remembered that these measures are not directed at skirmishing FLTV itself. Drugs designed to improve or modify the immune system, appear to be useful in treating some FLTV-associated diseases. However, such drugs do not eradicate the infection.

FLTV attacks the immunity of cats. A cautious pet owner can assist an infected cat to live a long life if he treats secondary infections. There is a proven risk that cats living outside a home can spread the disease to others. They can also spread the disease in a group setting in a shelter. Cats living as single pets seldom left to roam free, pose a reduced but not non-existent risk. There is no accord about euthanizing Feline T-lymphotropic Virus infected cats.

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