10909 Indian Head HighwayFort Washington, MD 20744(301) 292-1150(301) 292-1056
What is it?
Also called FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) is a contagious disease caused by a virus. 
 
Who is susceptible to it?
Cats, most common in male free-roaming cats that fight.
 
How does it spread?
The primary mode of transmission is via a bite wound.  It can also be spread to kittens through the mother’s milk.
 
Time line from exposure to signs?
First signs appear usually between 3 to 7 weeks.
 
What are the symptoms?
Divided in to three different stages
  1. Acute – Swollen lymph nodes, fever, diarrhea, anemia and malaise.
  2. Latent – Mild swelling of lymph nodes.
  3. Chronic – Mouth irritation, diarrhea, persistent upper respiratory infections, fevers of unknown origin, behavioral changes, seizures, dementia, and increased susceptibility to infections.
 
Is there a test for it?
Yes, there are many different tests.
  1. A blood sample Snap test done in the hospital, results available in 10 minutes.
  2. The doctor may decide to send follow up tests to the lab, which are more specific.
 
How is it treated?
Currently, there are no drugs available to cure FIV.  Treatment is directed at relieving clinical signs, controlling secondary infections, and preventing the spread of the virus to other cats.
 
Cleaning the environment?
Fortunately, FIV does not survive outside of the cats very long especially in a dry environment.  Common household disinfectant can be used to neutralize the virus.
 
Is there a vaccine?
Yes. The vaccine (Killed) does not provide complete protection.  The biggest problem with this vaccine is that it causes cats to test positive for the disease.   This is a problem because most cats that test positive at shelters are considered not fit for adoption.  We only recommend this vaccine be given in very specific cases and that a microchip be placed at the same time. 
 
Risk for humans?
FIV cannot infect people, and owners of FIV infected cats have no cause for alarm.
 
 
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