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Emerg Infect Dis. 2008 Feb;14(2):252-9. doi: 10.3201/eid1402.070981.

Genetic characterization of feline leukemia virus from Florida panthers.

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  • 1National Cancer Institute, Frederick, Maryland, USA.

Abstract

From 2002 through 2005, an outbreak of feline leukemia virus (FeLV) occurred in Florida panthers (Puma concolor coryi). Clinical signs included lymphadenopathy, anemia, septicemia, and weight loss; 5 panthers died. Not associated with FeLV outcome were the genetic heritage of the panthers (pure Florida vs. Texas/Florida crosses) and co-infection with feline immunodeficiency virus. Genetic analysis of panther FeLV, designated FeLV-Pco, determined that the outbreak likely came from 1 cross-species transmission from a domestic cat. The FeLV-Pco virus was closely related to the domestic cat exogenous FeLV-A subgroup in lacking recombinant segments derived from endogenous FeLV. FeLV-Pco sequences were most similar to the well-characterized FeLV-945 strain, which is highly virulent and strongly pathogenic in domestic cats because of unique long terminal repeat and envelope sequences. These unique features may also account for the severity of the outbreak after cross-species transmission to the panther.

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