The feline immunodeficiency virus, better known as feline HIV or its acronym IVF was first diagnosed in 1986 in a colony of cats in California. Since FIV cases have been diagnosed worldwide. And not only attacks the cats, also their cousins lions, tigers and pumas.
What does the virus? In the same way that HIV in humans, FIV attacks the cat’s immune system to fight against preventing infections.
NOTE: The cat with FIV you can not infect you. Although the virus comes from the same family as HIV, it is specific for cats.
Symptoms: The virus is not easily detected from the first. The way to know that the cat has FIV is when they begin to suffer from other diseases. This occurs in 3 phases
• Phase 1: The virus enters the body and is taking possession of white blood cells. Symptoms in cats include fever, anemia and swelling of the lymph nodes.
• Phase 2: The symptoms seem to disappear and the cat apparently healthy lives for years.
• Phase 3: In this phase are already signs. The virus destroys the immune system and the cat is exposed to any infection. Symptoms of Phase 3 are; • loss of weight and appetite • hair loses its shine; • Anemia; • Stomach problems; • Gingivitis; • diarrhea; • respiratory infections, eye, skin and urinary tract; • Cancer
Transmission and diagnosis: The virus is transmitted through saliva, especially when it comes coupled with bloody bites.
For this reason the greatest risk of infection between cats (male and female) unsterilized. The constant battle joined the mating process usually ends with the cat biting the cat territory create the perfect environment for the virus to spread. And this does not end the circle, many pregnant cats infect their kittens from the womb.
One more reason to spay or neuter your cat.
The diagnosis is not easy. It begins in the same way that the FeLV, using the ELISA blood test (for its acronym in English) which detects if the cat has antibodies to FIV. But the problem is that depending on the stage where the virus is found, the results can be misleading.
An example: A kitten born from an infected mother can receive antibodies from breast milk. The test will give positive results even if the kitten does not have the virus.
If there is still doubt, another test called IFA (immunofluorescence assay) to detect viral infection in white blood cells is used.
It is not the end: A diagnosis of IVF is devastating. But having the virus does not mean your cat will die immediately. Like millions of humans can live with HIV for years, your cat can also enjoy a fairly normal life for a long time.
Treatment: No cure, but solutions to keep you for years; • Follow your routine checkups so they look healthy.. Also be sure to take at the first sign of infection. • Diet high in protein and good quality; • Keep your cat indoors; • A flea-free regime to prevent infection
Prevention; • Sterilize your cats; • Keep them indoors and away from fights with other cats in the neighborhood; • If you plan to adopt a kitten, make sure you are vaccinated before taking it home. This is doubly important if you have more cats in your home.