It may be months or years before detecting AIDS disease. It is a lentivirus that takes time to show symptoms although the infection takes a long time in the body. These may be the possible causes of the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), a condition that attacks a high percentage of cats in the world.
Helpless immune system
The VIF was discovered in 1966 in Europe. This chronic disease destroys lymphocytes, one of the main types of immune cells and produces a state of immunodeficiency in cats.
B and T lymphocytes defend the body against different foreign substances, such as viruses, tumor cells or bacteria. They produce antibodies and proteins known as gamma globulin; These elements would form the body’s first line of immune defense.
The lymphocytes T are mobilized throughout the circulatory stream and lymphatic system. They guarantee cellular immunity by producing and releasing cytokines, small proteins that modulate the immune system . B lymphocytes are in the lymphatic tissues and form the cells that generate the antibodies.
Once inside the cat’s organism, the VIF will directly attack that immune system, preferably by T lymphocytes. From the moment it enters the body until the first symptoms are evident, it can take a long time. This long incubation period is what defines it as a lentivirus.
Feline immunodeficiency virus … and others
The VIF is from the same family as feline leukemia (VLF). They are very similar diseases, but they differ in that the first is a lentivirus and the second a retrovirus. The feline immunodeficiency virus is elongated and the VLF is circular; their genetics and protein structure also differ.
The VIF is a lentivirus similar to that which causes pneumonia in sheep, encephalitis, and arthritis in goats, HIV in humans and infectious anemia in horses.
Beware of bites
The only known way to inoculate the virus is through the bite of an infected cat. Sometime later the so-called opportunistic infections begin to appear, which are usually the first signs of the presence of IFV.
In practice, this type of virus takes advantage of the absence of antibodies to affect the cat’s health in different ways and with different strengths.
Mother cats can also transmit IFV antibodies to their pups through breastfeeding. It has been detected, however, that after the first six months of life these antibodies disappear. Only in a few cases, the kitten is infected.
The bacteria, fungi, protozoa or viruses typically cohabitate with cats without affecting your health. They become a huge danger in the absence of antibodies due to damage to the immune system.
At the first symptom of fever in the cat, the veterinarian should be consulted. If there is also a decrease in white blood cells, you will surely order a test to check the presence of the VIF.
Do not neglect the lack of appetite of the pet; You should also watch the cat’s fur. Dull hair is indicative that something is happening in our pussy.
The main infections that appear in a cat with FIV are gingivitis and stomatitis, which cause ulcerations in the gums and mouth. Anemia, neutropenia or low white blood cell count will also be present, as will thrombocytopenia or decreased platelets.
Before chronic infections of the urinary tract or respiratory system, do not hesitate to visit the specialist. Nor in cases of persistent diarrhea, abortions or reproductive problems, progressive weight loss, seizures, and other neurological disorders.
A complete evaluation
The doctor will evaluate the cat’s history and clinical signs before ordering the IFV antibody tests. They are laboratory tests that usually require a repeat at three months, before providing an accurate diagnosis.
Newborn cats will present antibodies from the infected mother for up to six months. It is convenient to perform the test after that period to determine the presence or not of the virus.
Better at home
Once the disease is detected, the cat should not leave the house. That way, exposure to infections will be avoided, among other things because the immune system is damaged.
Antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anabolic steroid medications will be your permanent companions. Also, the veterinarian may prescribe hydration, blood transfusions, and high-calorie supplements.
The best way to counteract the causes of the feline immunodeficiency virus (VIF) is to prevent your cat from roaming the streets. Keeping it at home will prevent contact with infected felines with whom it could fight.