Feline AIDS symptoms differ during the various phases of the disease.
In this chapter on feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) we provide comprehensive details about the symptoms during the 3 distinct stages of the disease and the diagnosis and treatment of this feline infectious disease.
Visit the previous chapter on feline aids virus for information on the cause, the transmission, the incubation and the 3 stages of development of this common infectious cat disease.
Feline AIDS symptoms may vary from cat to cat.
These are the most common symptoms:
The virus re-activates and destroys T-lymphocytes which are types of white blood cells needed for the proper functioning of the immune system.
As the cat's immune system is suppressed, the cat is unable to fight infection.
Feline AIDS symptoms in the chronic stage progress to:
The virus is slow acting which means that from the time that the cat
contracts the infection to the appearance of symptoms seen in the
chronic stage of the disease can be months to several years.
Cat owners who suspect that their cat has been infected by feline aids virus or presents with feline aids symptoms should visit their veterinarian for a complete physical examination and blood tests.
The veterinarian will make a diagnosis based on the medical history obtained from the cat owner.
All feline AIDS symptoms will be evaluated to assist in determining a diagnosis.
To confirm the diagnosis the vet will obtain a blood sample from the cat for an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test.
This blood test will identify the presence of feline immunodeficiency virus antibodies, which indicates that the cat has been exposed to the cat disease.
another test that can be done, but this test is relatively expensive,
lengthy and can only be performed by specialized laboratories. This test
involves the isolation of the virus from the lymphocytes.
Note: Blood test results can have a false-negative or false-positive result and may require additional testing.
Cats or kittens that have received cat vaccines for FIV will also produce false-positive results.
There is no specific treatment for feline immunodeficiency virus.
Treatment normally involves management of the secondary infections and controlling the feline AIDS symptoms.
Feline AIDS treatment will also depend on the severity of the infection and the stage of the cat disease.
In certain instances, euthanasia may be appropriate if the disease is at a very advanced stage and if the cat is experiencing pain, discomfort and has a poor quality of life.
If the disease is diagnosed early and the cat is in good health, feline AIDS should not signify a death sentence.
Prevention and treatment will include the following:
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