Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. Feline Immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is classified as a lentivirus (“slow virus”) and is in the retrovirus family.
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Feline Immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is classified as a lentivirus (“slow virus”) and is in the retrovirus family.
The feline immunodeficiency virus was isolated in 1986 from a cat with clinical symptoms that were strikingly similar to those seen in humans with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), the disease associated with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.
FIV can infect all cats, but intact male cats, because of their propensity for fighting, are more likely to be infected. While signs of the disease are most likely to be seen in adult cats, FIV infection often occurs in cats under 1 year of age
Up to 4 percent of free-roaming or stray cats may be infected with the virus.
The genetic material of FIV, like that of other retroviruses, consists of single-stranded RNA. The production of a double-stranded DNA copy of this RNA is an essential step in the replication (reproduction) of FIV within the host. This step requires a special viral enzyme, reverse transcriptase, which the virus carries with it when it infects a cell. The double-stranded copy of the viral genetic material then is inserted into the DNA of the host cell, where it may remain in an inactive state for some time before production of new virus particles is initiated. The replication of the infected cell is what causes a mass viral infection throughout the body of the host.
Following initial infection, FIV is carried to regional lymph nodes, where it replicates in a subpopulation of white blood cells known as T lymphocytes or T cells. These cells are primary target cells of FIV. The virus then spreads to lymph nodes throughout the body, resulting in a generalized lymphadenopathy (enlargement of the lymph nodes).
This stage of the disease usually passes unnoticed by an owner unless the nodes are greatly enlarged.
a complex of signs and symptoms representing a less severe stage of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection characterized by chronic generalized lymphadenopathy, fever, weight loss, prolonged diarrhea, minor opportunistic infections, cytopenia, and T-cell abnormalities of the kind associated with AIDS.
Fever of 103'F or greater is often present in this stage.
The lifespan of FIV-infected cats is highly variable. More than 50% of FIV-infected cats remain asymptomatic for years. About 20% of FIV-infected cats die within 2 years of diagnosis (i.e., 4 to 6 years after infection). Cats in stage 5 of the disease usually die within a year.
If the cat is in an early stage, the client may elect treatment.
Unfortunately, there is no specific antiviral treatment for FIV. Cats can carry the virus for a long period of time before becoming symptomatic. Therefore, treatment focuses mainly on extending the asymptomatic period or, if symptoms have set in, on easing the secondary effects of the virus. Your veterinarian may prescribe some of the following treatments:
Medication for secondary infections
Healthy, palatable diet to encourage good nutrition