10909 Indian Head HighwayFort Washington, MD 20744(301) 292-1150(301) 292-1056
 
What is it?
Feline Leukemia is caused by a highly contagious virus. 
 
Who is susceptible to it?
Cats of all ages, sex and breeds.
 
How does it spread?
It is spread primarily by saliva during catfights and mating. It can also spread by contact with infected blood or urine. Kittens may become infected while still in the womb, at birth or during nursing.  In cats living in close contact for long periods of time, the virus may spread through grooming of one another.
 
Time line from exposure to signs?
Signs of the disease can develop very slowly over a period of months. 
 
What are the symptoms?
Infection with the Leukemia Virus has three possible outcomes:
  1. 40% of cats will be able to mount a defense against the virus and be protected.
  2. 30% of cats do not respond to the virus and become neither infected nor immune to it.
  3. 30% cats become persistently infected with the virus and are susceptible to associated disease including cancer.  Associated diseases include:
  4. Cancer – Most commonly Lymphosarcoma (Lymph system cancer), Leukemia (bone marrow cancer).
  5. Bone Marrow Suppression - (decreased production of red and white blood cells).
  6. Others - kidney disease, reproductive disorders, Lymph node enlargement, bone abnormalities, urinary problems, and secondary bacterial infections.
 
Is there a test for it?
Yes, there are many different tests.  A blood sample Snap test done in the hospital, results available in 10 minutes.  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 Feline Leukemia.  Treatment is directed at relieving clinical signs, promoting a sense of well being, and preventing the spread of the virus to other cats.
 
Cleaning the environment?
Fortunately, Feline Leukemia Virus does not survive outside of the cat very long especially in a dry environment.  Common household disinfectants can be used to neutralize the virus.
 
Is there a vaccine?
Yes.  There are two types, the veterinarian will decide the most appropriate.  The vaccine requires two doses 4 weeks apart with yearly boosters.   FELV vaccines have been associated with Fibrosarcomas (cancer at the vaccine site) in the past.
  1. A Recombinant vaccine – is administered through air gun technology.
  2. Killed vaccine - is given by injection.
 
Risk for humans?
Man is not known to be affected by Feline Leukemia Virus.
 
 
 
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