Immunodeficiency virus in cats: symptoms and treatment. Can you get HIV from cats?

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is a complex retrovirus similar to HIV. And just as HIV can lead to AIDS, FIV can cause immunodeficiency in domestic cats. Find out whether a person can become infected with HIV from a cat, as well as about treatment for your pets in our article.

Symptoms of Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

Cats infected with immunodeficiency virus (IDV) may not show symptoms for several years after infection. Although the virus acts slowly, the cat's immune system is greatly weakened once the disease begins to progress. This makes the cat susceptible to other infections and diseases. Cats infected with immunodeficiency virus that are treated and kept in good conditions can live relatively comfortably for several months or even years before the disease becomes chronic.

Symptoms of immunodeficiency virus in cats usually occur due to the body's reduced ability to mount an immune response against infections. Symptoms may include:

  • elevated temperature;
  • enlarged lymph nodes;
  • inflammation of the gums and oral tissues;
  • upper respiratory tract disease, including inflammation of the tissues of the nose and eyelids;
  • eye diseases, including inflammation of the cornea and iris and glaucoma;
  • long-term (chronic) renal failure;
  • persistent diarrhea;
  • weight loss and weakness, especially in the later stages of the disease;
  • cancer - especially lymphoma;
  • Nervous system disorders, including sleep problems, behavioral changes (such as aggression), and changes in vision and hearing.

Read also: “HIV infection in monkeys”

How is feline immunodeficiency virus transmitted?

Bites, wounds and scratches are the most common means of infection; Less commonly, the virus can be transmitted from a pregnant cat to her kittens. Sexual transmission is rare, although studies have found the virus to be present in the semen of cats .

Because FIV spreads directly from cat to cat through saliva, feline immunodeficiency virus is most often found in stray cats that are not neutered because they fight more often. Domestic cats generally have an extremely low risk of contracting FIV.

There is no genetic predisposition to the infection, although genetics may influence how quickly the disease progresses.

How is immunodeficiency virus diagnosed in cats?

If you suspect your cat has FIV, have her examined and checked by a veterinarian immediately. When you visit your veterinarian, you should describe any symptoms you notice, no matter how minor they seem.

Feline immunodeficiency virus is usually diagnosed using a blood test. The most common type of test is the presence of antibodies to the virus in the blood. However, no test is 100% accurate, so your veterinarian will interpret the test result and determine if further testing is necessary to confirm a positive or negative test result. If the test confirms that a cat is FIV-positive, it means that it is capable of transmitting the disease to other cats.

Also, once a diagnosis of FIV is confirmed, the veterinarian should assess your pet's overall health through a blood test and a complete cat assessment. Blood tests usually include complete blood count and biochemical blood tests.

A urine test is also performed to evaluate kidney health and screen for urinary infections.

Your veterinarian may also order other tests, including x-rays, ultrasound, or stool examination. This is to rule out other health problems, including bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic infections, as well as cancer.

Treatment of immunodeficiency virus in cats

Because FIV-infected cats can live for years without any symptoms, treatment may not be necessary until symptoms indicate disease progression.

Secondary infections are common in the later stages of FIV infection due to the progressive weakening of the immune system. Problems can range from mild to severe and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Certain problems that can arise with advanced FIV, such as dental infections and tumor development, may need to be addressed with surgery. Cats with severe dental disease may need all their teeth removed to relieve pain caused by gingivitis and other oral problems.

Your veterinarian may also recommend a special dietary plan to address your cat's specific health concerns.

Cats with FIV infection should be monitored by you at home and seen regularly by a veterinarian. This will help detect the development of secondary infections and other manifestations of the disease.

Progressive health problems, such as gradual weight loss and increasingly frequent secondary infections, may be signs that FIV is beginning to affect your pet's quality of life.

But in general, the earlier FIV is detected, the better your cat's chances of living a long and relatively healthy life.

Is HIV in cats dangerous for humans?

The answer is negative. The immunodeficiency virus in cats is different from HIV infection in humans, so an animal with this disease does not pose a danger to humans.

However, due to a weakened immune system, an FIV-infected cat is at high risk of contracting other infectious diseases that can be contagious to humans. Such diseases include toxoplasmos, an infectious disease transmitted to humans from cats.

Therefore, in order to prevent the risk of human infection with infections associated with the feline immunodeficiency virus, it is recommended to begin timely treatment of your pet. At the first suspicion of FIV, be sure to contact your veterinarian and follow all the doctor’s treatment and preventive instructions.

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