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Free retrovirus toolkit now available

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Do you have the bandwidth for another feline virus? How about two?

Because while SARS-CoV-2 is the new kid on the block, feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) haven’t gone anywhere. And the new Retrovirus Educational Toolkit from the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) can help you manage both at a time when the hospitals need all the help they can get.

The toolkit is built on the AAFP’s 2020 Feline Retrovirus Testing and Management Guidelines, released last January.

While a couple of isolated cases of SARS-CoV-2 in cats may have captured  headlines, FeLV and 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. For cat owners, it’s of more immediate concern than a big cat testing positive in a Bronx zoo.

NEWStat reached out to 2020 AAFP President Kelly St. Denis, DVM, DABVP (Feline) to find out more about the new guidelines and toolkit.

“The release of the [new] guidelines provided groundbreaking information on our understanding of FeLV and FIV,” she noted. “[The toolkit] takes this cutting-edge information and provides it in easy-to-access, bite-sized pieces that can be applied directly in practice in the moment.” The toolkit offers veterinary professionals access to the key feline retrovirus testing and management information for assessing patients who may be facing infection.  “For busy practitioners, this provides quick guidance when needed the most.”

Formatted for easy access and review, the toolkit offers professionals the background and knowledge to prevent, diagnose, and manage FeLV and FIV infections. Both digital and printable versions of the toolkit are available, making the content easy-to-access in the practice.

While St. Denis concedes that the COVID-19 pandemic is an “overwhelming topic,” she cautions veterinarians against letting it distract from other feline health considerations: “The [guidelines and toolkit] provide veterinarians with an updated look at FeLV and FIV that should benefit clients and their cats, giving clients peace of mind in knowing their veterinarian is up to date on the latest in feline retroviruses.”

And given that so many hospitals have had to scale back hours and services, the guidelines and toolkit offer a convenient way to educate clients on treating FeLV and FIV in a difficult time.

Since the main focus of treatment is on providing an enriched environment, with good food and good healthcare, St. Denis said that educating clients on treating FeLV and FIV should be directly in line with what we’re already recommending to them during the pandemic: “Cats need regular schedules, a good environment, and consistent, safe interactions with their humans,” St. Denis said. “As we continue to support our feline patients during a stressful time when many of their owners are staying at home, the recommendations align quite nicely.”

And for pet owners worried about their cats catching COVID-19, timely FeLV and FIV education does double duty.

“Taking good care of their pet cats is a pursuit that will protect cats from exposure to infectious disease in general,” St. Denis said. “In that respect, cat owners should continue to follow their veterinarian’s advice in how to provide a healthy environment, while following any new and updated recommendations that come from the CDC in regard to COVID-19.”

The retrovirus toolkit can be a part of that continuity of quality care, St. Denis said: “It’s an easy-to-access, quick source of updated information that can get the answers veterinarians need in real time.”

Photo credit: © iStock/Okssi68