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Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Diagnosis

Veterinary care should include diagnostic tests and subsequent treatments. Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize FeLV, and exclude other diseases. Tests may include:

  • A complete medical history and a thorough physical examination.

  • A screening blood test for FeLV. The most commonly performed screening tests are the ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) and IFA (indirect immunofluoresence) tests. Healthy cats should not be euthanized based on the results of one screening blood test.

    There is no specific treatment that will reliably eliminate FeLV infection. However, treatments for FeLV may include any of the following:

  • Antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections
  • Nutritional support (force feeding, tube feeding)
  • Parasite control
  • Biopsy to diagnose cancer
  • Surgery to remove tumors
  • Chemotherapy for Lymphosarcoma (cancer of the lymph nodes and tissues that produce lymphocytes)

    Home Care

    Administer as directed any medications prescribed by your veterinarian. Provide high quality nutrition and schedule regular follow-up visits with your veterinarian to monitor your cat's condition.

    All FeLV-infected cats should remain indoors to decrease exposure to other cats. Isolate FeLV-infected cats from FeLV-negative cats.

    Preventative Care

    Feline leukemia virus is an infectious disease that can be prevented primarily by eliminating interactions with infected cats. Recommendations include:

  • Keep your cat indoors.
  • Prevent fighting with other cats.
  • Neuter males to help decrease roaming and fighting.
  • Test other cats in the household and isolate FeLV-negative cats from FeLV-positive cats.
  • Vaccinate "at-risk" cats against FeLV. "At-risk" cats include cats that spend any time outdoors, breeding cats, or cattery cats.

    Vaccination against other diseases should be discussed with your veterinarian. If yearly vaccinations are given, only killed vaccine products (those composed of killed virus rather modified live virus) should be used to avoid complications in FeLV-infected cats with potentially weakened immune systems.

    Antibiotics should be administered to FeLV-infected cats before preventative dentistry to minimize the risk of secondary bacterial infection.

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