FIV is transmissible through saliva and blood; most commonly through bite wounds. In utero infection is possible but rare.
Male cats are at least twice as likely to be infected as female cats especially the free-roaming unneutered ones because of territorial fights.
Clinical signs generally appear many months to years after transmission. However they can sometimes start 6 to 8 weeks after transmission. We could observe:
-leucopenia (low white blood cell count)
-Opportunistic infections and neoplasia because of immunosuppression
5% of FIV cases are also FeLV (feline leukemia) positive. Incidence of neoplasia (cancer) is 6 times more likely when FIV positive, 60 times when FeLV positive and 80 times when positive to both viruses.
FIV snap test ( ELISA): detects antibodies. If the test is positive it usually means that cat has been exposed and is infected. However, we can have a false positive with cats that have been vaccinated with the FIV vaccine.
-Western Blot: detects antibodies by another method; mainly a confirmatory test if the ELISA is positive.
FIV PCR: could potentially set apart FIV positive from vaccination and natural infection. Also there may be false negative results due to different strains.
Test all new in-coming cats before adding to a household.
-Prevent exposure to outdoor cats.
-The FIV vaccine is recommended to high-risk cats with a known FIV negative status. The vaccine only offers protection for 3 of the 4 known strains; so would be 70-80% effective based on studies performed in the United States. At this point in time, we don’t know which strains are most prevalent in Canada.
-Since this is a retroviral infection, there is no effective cure.
-Treatment of secondary infections as they occur.
-Stimulant of the immune system may be beneficial.
-These cats should not be allowed outside so they won’t expose other cats to FIV.
-Also, because they are immuno-compromised, they won’t be exposed to life-threatening
-A diagnosis of FIV has widely variable implications. A positive cat that is otherwise healthy may never develop clinical signs; he should have a normal quality of life until then but can transmit the virus to other cats.