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AAFP releases updated feline retrovirus report

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Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) affect up to 3% of all cats in the US, and infection rates are significantly higher in cats who are ill or otherwise at high risk—15% and 30% for FeLV and FIV, respectively.

That’s why today, the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) released their updated 2020 AAFP Feline Retrovirus Testing and Management Guidelines, which were simultaneously published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, as part of its ongoing mission to provide accurate information about feline retroviruses to pet owners, physicians, and veterinarians.

The updated report and accompanying client brochure provide a guide to veterinary practitioners in the pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of these common infectious diseases in cats.

The report focuses on FeLV and FIV infections, which are found in cats worldwide, and represents a consensus of current information compiled by an international panel of researchers and practitioners, including veterinarians working in private practice and in shelters.

In addition, the accompanying client brochure provides cat caregivers with information regarding transmission, testing, prevalence, and precautions.

“The 2020 Feline Retrovirus Testing and Management Guidelines contain much new information about feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus infections. The panel is especially proud to have endorsement of the guidelines by the International Society of Feline Medicine,” said guidelines cochair Susan Little, DVM, DABVP (Feline).

Panel member Julie Levy, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, DABVP (Shelter Medicine), added, “These guidelines address rapidly evolving knowledge about how testing results, clinical expression, and prognosis for FeLV may change over time relative to the cat’s current immune response and resulting levels of virus in circulation, [and] how quantitative testing may be used to better inform clinical decision making.”

Levy said the new report also addresses an emerging trend in which screening for FeLV and FIV is increasingly shifting from animal shelters, where cats are adopted, to veterinary practices, where animals receive comprehensive care. The virus is spread primarily through saliva and is usually passed to other cats via bite wounds.

While vaccines can protect cats from FeLV, early screening remains an important factor for preventing both diseases, especially as there are no vaccines available in the US or Canada clinically proven to protect cats from FIV.

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