Feline Leukemia and FIV testing

Testing Guidelines for Feline Leukemia and FIV

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLv) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) infections are life-threatening diseases that occur worldwide in cats and kittens. FeLV is associated with illness in and death of more cats than any other infectious agent. FeLV infection has been associated with a wide variety of diseases including anemia (low red blood cell count), cancer and disorders associated with immune dysfunction.

FIV has been associated with diseases and infection of the mouth, bone marrow disease, cancer, eye disease, central nervous system disease and other disorders of immune dysfunction.
The best way to prevent these diseases is to prevent exposure. There is an effective vaccine available for FeLV though we only recommend it for cats that will be potentially exposed (cats that go outdoors). There is currently no effective vaccine available for FIV.

Cats and kittens should be tested for FeLV and FIV under the following circumstances:

  • When newly adopted since infection may have future health ramifications, even if the cat does not presently have any signs of disease.
  • When being introduced into a new household to prevent exposing resident cats or cats that may join the household in the future.
  • When they are sick, regardless of age, negative results on previous tests, and FeLV vaccination status. Your Brinker veterinarian will discuss this with you if it is recommended for your cat’s specific ailments.
  • When results of the most recent test are negative, but recent exposure cannot be ruled out. Cats in this situation should be retested a minimum of 28 days after the last potential exposure because test results may be negative during the early (previremic) stage of infection.
  • Any time a cat or kitten will be undergoing anesthesia and/or surgery and the FeLV/FIV status is unknown or questionable. Kittens tested earlier than 6 months of age will require retesting, unless the test was performed within the last 28 days.
  • When cats are potentially exposed to cats of unknown infection status, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated against FeLV.
  • Before starting vaccination against FeLV. The vaccine does not affect the carrier state (the capacity to infect other cats), or the development of disease in cats with pre-existing infection. Vaccination may also be associated with adverse events in cats with FeLV/FIV infections.

**If your cat has tested positive for one of these two diseases, your veterinarian will discuss confirmation testing and management/treatment options available.

** These recommendations compiled by Brinker Veterinary Hospital are derived from the American Association of Feline Practitioners and Academy of Feline Academy Advisory Panel on Feline Retrovirus Testing and Management, 2005.

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