Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) -
What You Need to Know
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What is FIV?
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is less common and less lethal than FeLV and is found in approximately 1% -14% of cats all over the world, including North America. As with most viral infections, the cat's own immune system develops a strong and potent response against the virus. This response may be very efficient at keeping the virus at bay for many years, or even for the entire life of the cat.
Unfortunately, in many cases, FIV bears similar symptoms to human HIV and often leads to a continuous drop in the count of white blood cells, namely, T cells. This stage is known as immunodeficiency and results in an inability of the cat's immune system to fend off other infections. Such infections, that are otherwise transient and non-life-threatening, become deadly in FIV infected cats and may result in AIDS and death.
How is FIV transmitted?
Cats infected with active FIV carry large amounts of the virus in their saliva. It is believed that FIV is transmitted from sick to healthy cats by saliva as a result of fighting wounds. Infected mothers may also infect their offsprings at an alarming rate of 70%! Several years a vaccine for FIV was developed and approved for preventing infection, however, due to low efficacy this preventive treatment is no longer available in the USA.
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 FIV. Moreover, cats carrying another deadly virus, Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), are at a higher risk for contracting FIV.
Having FIV is NOT the end of the world!
Dr. Julie Levy has summarized the risk of carrying or developing FIV Disease. In short, cats with active disease are more likely to produce and shed FIV virus in their saliva, are more contagious, and are more likely to develop the disease. This means, that cats without detectable FIV are less infectious and more likely to remain healthy.
Since FIV can act up any time it is imperative to retest your cat for FIV every so often. Read more about Dr. Levy's report here.
**Note: FIV transmission in households with several cats is generally very low. There is little to no evidence that adopting an FIV positive cat, who is fix poses any risk to other cats.
How often should I test my cat for FIV?
If your cat has not been tested for FIV 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 FIV 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 relative ease of collecting saliva allows you to test for FIV by not having to visit your local vet. While the affordable price allows you to test your cat as often as you would like.
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