Controversy on Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) Vaccine? The Irreverent Vet

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Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is a viral infection that attacks the immune system of cats. It is primarily spread by bite wounds. There is a vaccine to prevent it but the vaccine is controversial.

I’ll tell you why.

Before I go any further, let me introduce myself for those of you that don’t know me. I’m the Irreverent Veterinarian and I give you my honest opinion of issues in the animal care world. Some might say that I’m honest to a fault. I speak my mind and I won’t sweet-talk you or sugarcoat the truth. I tell it like it is – to you, the drug companies, the pet product manufacturers, professional breeders and pet owners. Some of what I say can be controversial, but that doesn’t stop me-it can be hard to hear the truth.

Back to FIV. It is also known as Feline acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (Feline AIDS) and commonly referred to by the letters “F-I-V”.
The immunodeficiency caused by the virus can promote a variety of symptoms including: infections caused by the poorly functioning immune system, anemia and low blood-cell counts, infections of the gums and mouth, cancer or neurologic disease.

For more information on FIV – go to this full article on: Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

Transmission among household cats through normal contact is thought to be unlikely. However, outdoor, adult, and male cats are predisposed. Male cats are twice as likely to be infected as female cats. Adult cats are more common infected than kittens. The American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends that outdoor cats be tested annually for this virus and as well as for the feline leukemia virus (FeLV).
Young cats, new cats to households and sick cats are routinely tested for FIV.

The key to prevention is to keep your cat indoors. Outdoor cats should be neutered to minimize bite wounds that are often assocated with intact male cats. Another way to “prevent FIV” is to vaccinate.

Since 2002, there has been a vaccine available for FIV which was highly promoted and advertised.

Now here is the controversy.

The vaccine causes a false positive test result. Once a cat tests positive for FIV– it is difficult to know if they are a real positive or they are a vaccinated positive. So a sick cat ends up at the vet clinic, the client doesn’t mention he was vaccinated for FIV, he tests positive and is euthanized.

Some owners don’t realize the vaccine will create a false positive blood test or in many causes, you adopt a stray and don’t know the history of the cat. It is possible he had a home, was vaccinated and still ended up in the shelter.

Veterinarians have spent the past several years evaluating this vaccination. It seems like a good idea but there are some risks. The vaccine is not 100% protective. There are 5 strains of the FIV virus and it is believed that vaccine as made using two of the strains. This leaves a cat somewhat protected, not completely protected. The other point of concern amongst veterinarian is that the FIV vaccine is an “adjuvated” vaccine. The Adjuvant is an additive used to help stimulate the immune system with killed vaccines. Adjuvanted vaccines have been associated with a cancer called Injection Site Sarcoma. For more information, go to: Injection-Site Sarcoma (Vaccine-Site Sarcoma)