It is a member of the lentivirus subfamily of retroviruses that affects domesticated house cats worldwide, and is the causative agent of feline aids.
FIV primarily infects and gradually destroys selected populations of T-lymphocytes. After a prolonged, asymptomatic period that extends for years, the progressive loss of T- lymphocytes results in an immunodeficiency syndrome characterized by chronic and recurrent infections. Infection that is lifelong and eventually fatal.
From 2.5 – 44% of cats worldwide are infected with the FIV. FIV is the only non-primate lentivirus to cause aids-like syndrome.
Susceptible species include the domestic cat, lion, tiger, jaguar, snow leopard, panther, and bobcat. Humans cannot become infected with the Feline immunodeficiency virus.
FIV was first discovered in 1986 in a colony of cats that had a high prevalence of opportunistic infections and degenerative conditions, and has since been identified as an endemic disease in domestic cat populations worldwide including St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The primary modes of transmission are deep bite wounds and scratches, where the infected catâs saliva enters the other catâs bloodstream.
FIV may be transmitted from pregnant females to their offspring in- utero.
Sex distribution: male cats outnumber females 3 to 1 .
Age distribution: FIV affects cats of all ages. However, the incidence increases with age, and FIV is most prevalent in cats 5 years and older.
Clinical signs of the disease.
Stage 1: Acute primary phase of the infection.
This stage begins 4 to 6 weeks after exposure; effects usually go unnoticed.
There is a transient fever that could last from 3 to 14 days.
The lymph-nodes could be swollen.
Occasional complications: sepsis, inflammation of the skin in the face, anemia, diarrhea, cellulitis.
Stage 2: Asymptomatic latent phase of infection.
There is prolonged latency of variable duration up to years before signs of immunodeficiency occurs.
Stage 3: This stage is characterized by an acquired immunodeficiency syndrome of chronic, recurrent opportunistic infections that progressively worsen over months to years and may involve any one or combinations of the following:
o Progressive weight loss or chronic wasting.
o Chronic recurrent bacterial infections.
o Recurrent fevers of unknown origin.
o Swollen lymph-nodes.
o Persistent anemia.
o Infections in the mouth and gums.
o Respiratory infections.
o Intestinal infections, including diarrhea.
o Skin infections.
o Urinary tract infections.
This disease could easily be diagnosed by your veterinarian, using antibody testing.