One of the most frequent and deadly infectious diseases for cats is feline leukemia, caused by a retrovirus that attacks its immune system and which is the main reason for non-traumatic mortality of domestic cats. If you want to know which are the routes of transmission of this disease and what preventive measures should be adopted, pay attention to the following note.
What is feline leukemia?
The feline leukemia virus – ViLeF was identified more than 50 years ago as one of the possible causes of lymphosarcomas in cats. Scientists believe that the virus was transmitted by rats, becoming a feline virus. This type of oncovirus is associated with both neoplastic and non-neoplastic diseases.
The virus is found in body fluids of cats that have been infected, especially in urine and saliva. Its transmission occurs through contact between cats, sharing the feeder or in fights. In puppies, infection can occur through breastfeeding of the infected mother or occur during pregnancy.
The virus multiplies rapidly in the body of the infected cat. There is a chance that the feline’s own immune system will eliminate the virus completely, but it will depend on the cat’s body health and the strength of its defenses. Otherwise, symptoms begin to appear soon, especially in young kittens.
Symptoms and treatment of feline leukemia
A cat infected with the leukemia virus can present very unspecific symptoms; however, the most common are loss of appetite, decreased body weight, anemia, fever, lethargy, diarrhea and constant vomiting. In addition, it usually presents infections of the upper respiratory tract and a deformation of its coat.
The coincidence of the symptoms with other types of pathologies makes its correct diagnosis difficult, so it is necessary that the cat be evaluated by a veterinarian. Leukemia virus infections can be detected with specific laboratory tests for these cases.
Although there is no effective treatment against the feline leukemia virus, the actions are focused on two methods of antiretroviral therapy, through the ingestion of drugs to control the replication of the virus and immunomodulatory drugs in order to enhance the immune response and always indicated by an expert oncological team.
The veterinarian also directs his efforts towards the control of secondary diseases that usually accompany the presence of the feline leukemia virus.
The best way to control the proliferation of the virus and keep our pet protected is to avoid coming into contact with infected cats; In addition, regular monitoring in the veterinary clinic is essential for the care of cats.
The specialist will determine the vaccine regimen that should be followed to prevent feline leukemia, taking into account that antigenic testing of the disease has been carried out before the vaccination.