Study surveys ongoing bits of knowledge into the pathogenesis of feline leukemia virus contamination
- Post By : Kumar Jeetendra
- Source: SAGE
- Date: 10 Sep,2020
Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is a gammaretrovirus that occurs worldwide in domestic cats, in addition to small wild cats. It’s associated with various severe, and sometimes fatal, diseases including anaemia, immunosuppression and certain cancers.
First described over 55 years ago, FeLV has been the topic of intense research interest, which has led to increasingly robust diagnostic assays and efficacious vaccines.
While the prevalence of the infection in domestic cats has decreased in many geographical regions, the disease remains something of an enigma and can spread quickly, especially within naïve’multi-cat’ populations such as shelters and breeding catteries, as well as within pet homes with multiple cats.
An important goal in order to reduce the prevalence further is understanding the FeLV status of every cat at risk of infection.
A state-of-the-art Premier Review printed in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery this month aims to contribute diagnostic expertise to veterinarians in practice by reviewing recent insights into infection pathogenesis, gained using molecular methods.
Writing for an international audience of veterinary practitioners and feline researchers, Professors Regina Hofmann-Lehmann, of the University of Zurich, Switzerland, and Katrin Hartmann, of LMU Munich, Germany, describe that not only are there several unique outcomes of FeLV infection, but that these may vary over time.
From an epidemiological point of view, it is the progressively infected cat that is most significant. In these infections, the virus has the upper hand – these cats discard large numbers of FeLV particles and pose a disease risk to other cats.
No matter their health condition, progressively infected cats will need to be kept apart from FeLV-naïve companions. From a clinical viewpoint, progressively infected cats are a priority too: they’re at high risk of succumbing to potentially deadly disorder; though, if well cared for, many can continue to live a healthy and happy life, sometimes for ages.
Of the other possible results, abortive infection is the most favourable for the cat – these cats have strong anti-FeLV immunity.
Regressively infected cats will have developed a somewhat effective antiviral immune response that can keep the virus in check; however, they likely never clear the infection completely, and can shed virus, and thus pose an infection risk, in the first phase of infection or if reactivation occurs.
In focal infection, which is relatively rare, the cat’s immune system retains viral replication sequestered in certain tissues.
In regards to FeLV testing, apparently perplexing or’discordant’ test results aren’t uncommon, especially in the early phase of infection, and can pose substantial challenges for the professional needing to establish the FeLV status and implement appropriate therapeutic and epidemiological measures.
The detection of anti-FeLV radicals, such as a point-of-care test for FeLV p15E introduced recently onto the European market, is also discussed. A diagnostic algorithm produced by the European Advisory Board on Cat Diseases (ABCD) which provides advice on which test to choose in which situation is incorporated within the article.
In addition to being expert members of the ABCD, both writers were members of an expert panel for recently published consensus guidelines from the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) on feline retrovirus testing and management,2 and collectively the guidelines and review article present the current state of knowledge about this potentially fatal virus.
Discussing their vision for their article, Professors Hofmann-Lehmann and Hartmann remark:’We hope that this review won’t only increase awareness of the deadly but preventable disease, but also help veterinarians in clinical practice when diagnosing this remarkable but catchy infection’.
Lehmann-Hofmann, R., et al. (2020) Feline leukaemia virus infection: A practical approach to diagnosis. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. doi.org/10.1177/1098612X20941785.