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J Feline Med Surg. 2008 Jul;10(3):300-16. doi: 10.1016/j.jfms.2008.03.002. Epub 2008 May 2.

2008 American Association of Feline Practitioners' feline retrovirus management guidelines.

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  • 1Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA.


Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) are among the most common infectious diseases of cats. Although vaccines are available for both viruses, identification and segregation of infected cats form the cornerstone for preventing new infections. Guidelines in this report have been developed for diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and management of FeLV and FIV infections. All cats should be tested for FeLV and FIV infections at appropriate intervals based on individual risk assessments. This includes testing at the time of acquisition, following exposure to an infected cat or a cat of unknown infection status, prior to vaccination against FeLV or FIV, prior to entering group housing, and when cats become sick. No test is 100% accurate at all times under all conditions; results should be interpreted along with the patient's health and risk factors. Retroviral tests can diagnose only infection, not clinical disease, and cats infected with FeLV or FIV may live for many years. A decision for euthanasia should never be based solely on whether or not the cat is infected. Vaccination against FeLV is highly recommended in kittens. In adult cats, antiretroviral vaccines are considered non-core and should be administered only if a risk assessment indicates they are appropriate. Few large controlled studies have been performed using antiviral or immunomodulating drugs for the treatment of naturally infected cats. More research is needed to identify best practices to improve long-term outcomes following retroviral infections in cats.

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