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N Z Vet J. 2017 Nov;65(6):285-291. doi: 10.1080/00480169.2017.1348266. Epub 2017 Jul 24.

Prevalence and risk factors for cats testing positive for feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukaemia virus infection in cats entering an animal shelter in New Zealand.

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a Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences , Massey University , Private Bag 11-222, Palmerston North , 4442 , New Zealand.
b RNZSPCA , PO Box 15-309, New Lynn, Auckland , 0640 , New Zealand.


AIMS To estimate the prevalence of cats testing positive for antibodies to feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) antigens in domestic cats entering a New Zealand animal shelter, based on a commercial point-of-care ELISA, to identify risk factors associated with cats testing positive, and to compare the results obtained from the ELISA with those obtained using PCR-based testing. METHOD A cross-sectional study was performed on 388 cats entering the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals animal shelter in Auckland, New Zealand between 7 February 2014 and 30 May 2014. Whole blood samples were collected from each cat and tested for FIV antibody and FeLV antigen using a commercial point-of-care ELISA. Information on the signalment and health status of the cat at the time of entry was also recorded. Blood and saliva samples from a subset of cats were tested for FIV and FeLV proviral DNA using a real-time PCR assay. RESULTS Of the 388 cats in the study sample, 146 (37.6%) had been relinquished by owners, 237 (62.4%) were strays, and 5 (1.3%) were of unknown origin. Overall, 53/388 (13.7%) cats tested positive for FIV antibodies and 4/388 (1.0%) were positive for FeLV antigen. Stray cats had a higher FIV seroprevalence than relinquished cats (42/237 (17.8%) vs. 11/146 (7.5%); p=0.008). Of 53 cats that were FIV-seropositive, 51 (96%) tested positive for FIV proviral DNA using PCR testing of blood. Of these 51 cats, 28 (55%) were positive by PCR testing of saliva. Of the four cats that were FeLV antigen-positive by ELISA, two (50%) were positive for FeLV proviral DNA by PCR testing of blood. The odds of a cat being seropositive for FIV were greater for intact compared to desexed cats (OR=3.3; 95% CI=1.6-7.4) and for male compared to female cats (OR=6.5; 95% CI=3.2-14.0). CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE The seroprevalence for FIV was 14% among cats entering an animal shelter in Auckland, whereas the prevalence of FeLV antigen-positive cats was only 1%. These findings suggest differences in the transmission dynamics of each virus in free-roaming cat populations in New Zealand. Our study also highlights the potential role of desexing cats in reducing transmission of FIV. However, further data from first-opinion veterinary practices are required to confirm that these findings may be generalised to the wider domestic cat population in New Zealand.


Feline immunodeficiency virus; cats; diagnostic tests; epidemiology; feline leukaemia virus; risk factor

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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