How contagious is FIV?

Our question this week was:

Regarding FIV. If a cat is positive for FIV and goes to the vet for a teeth cleaning, how should the dental instruments be cleaned after the teeth cleaning, can the virus be transmitted if they are not autoclaved? Also how should food bowls be cleaned, that other cats may use after the cat has gone home? What precautions should be taken when cleaning up blood and saliva from the cleaning? All information is useful.


Also this cannot be transmitted to humans? Correct?


Hi – thanks for your email Margo. You asked – how contagious is FIV. For example, how should dental instruments and bowls be cleaned? Can it be transmitted to people?

These are excellent and thoughtful questions. First, I want to address your question about if FIV can be transmitted to people. FIV (Feline immunodeficiency virus) can NOT be transmitted to people.

Most believe that the FIV virus is readily killed by most disinfectants and don’t survive long outside of the cat. Different veterinary practices do slightly different procedures for disinfection. Most use a disinfectant (one commonly used is called Roccal) and all cages, bowls, crates, pads, etc are sprayed down, allowed do soak, rinsed and dried.

Some veterinary practices autoclave instruments and other allow them to soak in disinfecting solutions and even ultrasonic cleaners between procedures, which are very effective.

If you are disinfecting at home, you may use a dilute solution of household bleach (four ounces of bleach in 1 gallon of water). Test before using on carpet or fabrics. It is very good for most items.

An article that might be helpful to you is Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV).

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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