Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)

What You Need to Know

What is FeLV?


Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is a common and contagious virus found all over the world, including North America. While some reports show an overall infection in 1 out of 10 cats in the US, more recent information points towards a lower rate of 7 out 100 cats . As with most viral infections, the cat's own immune system develops a strong and potent response against the virus. However, in most cases, FeLV has a cunning ability to evade the immune system or even destroy it altogether, leading to death as early as three years after infection. 


How is FeLV transmitted?


Cats infected with FeLV carry large amounts of the virus in their saliva. This often leads to FeLV transmission by routine cat activities such as licking, mutual grooming and shared food and water dishes. Other routes of transmission include biting, blood transfusion and even through a nursing cat's milk. 

Is my cat at risk?


Generally speaking, cats that have access to the outdoors, have contact with other cats, and/or are aggressive by nature have a higher likelihood of contracting FeLV. Moreover, cats carrying another deadly virus, Feline Immunodeficient Virus (FIV), are at a higher risk for contracting FeLV. Based on statistics, adult cats are more likely to be infected with FeLV than cats younger than 6 months, with a median age of three years.


Having FeLV is NOT the end of the world! 


Dr. Julie Levy has summarized the risk of carrying or developing FeLV Disease. In short, cats with active disease are more likely to produce and shed FeLV virus in their saliva, are more contagious, and are more likely to develop the disease. This means, that cats without detectable FeLV are not infectious, and more likely to remain healthy.

Since FeLV can act up any time it is imperative to retest your cat for FeLV every so often. Read more about Dr. Levy's report here


How often should I test my cat for FeLV?


If your cat has not been tested for FeLV it is best to test them as soon as possible. If your cat enjoys the outdoors or is part of a household with more than one cat we recommend testing your cat once every 6 months


What makes CatDX testing unique?


With FeLV transmitted by saliva, CatDX tests for the presence of the virus directly in the Saliva. Our test is capable of detecting as little as 10 viruses, ensuring an accurate and affordable result. 

The European Advisory Board on Cat Disease (ABCD) has recognized our method, of PCR testing as a reliable and accurate approach for detecting FeLV in cats. They state that "The detection of viral RNA added a new aspect to the diagnosis of FeLV infection ...  Viral RNA present in whole blood, serum, plasma or saliva is detected by real-time reverse transcriptase (RT)-PCR. This technique permits the detection and quantitation of viral genetic sequences in the absence of cells... Detection of viral RNA in saliva is a reliable parameter of viraemia... The use of saliva as the substrate represents an alternative for assessing the infectious state of a cat without leading to unnecessary stress to the patient which usually resents blood sampling. Moreover, the sample collection does not require trained personnel... Continue Reading Here.


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