About Feline Aids
Feline Aids or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) for short is actually caused by something that scientist call “a retrovirus”. Such organisms are very difficult to treat because of the way they work inside an animal’s body. The retrovirus at the root of Feline Aids belongs to a family or type of viruses called lentivirus and it’s the same group that causes Aids in humans (human Immunodeficiency syndrome). FIV is known to affect feline’s right across the species from domestic cats to lions and everything in-between. The cruel thing about this virus is that like Aids it attacks the animals own immune system. The virus first attacks the healthy cells and replicates its own DNA which is then carried around the cat’s body in the blood stream. This in turn weakens the animal’s resistance to infection often resulting severe illness and often a premature death if left untreated. Many of the symptoms of feline Aids are the same as feline leukemia but the two viruses are quite dissimilar and proliferate in differing ways.
Symptoms Of Feline Aids
Before we look at the symptoms of feline aids it is probably useful to gain a little more understanding of the 3 distinct phases of the disease. Firstly, once the virus has entered the body it goes to the nearest Lymph nodes where it sets about replacing the white blood cells. From here it then spreads throughout the cats lymphatic system causing severe symptoms such as fever, anemia and of course swollen lymph nodes. However due to their propensity to mask symptoms it can actually go undetected during this initial phase lasting only few weeks.
Then second phase can last for many years and the cat can appear to be apparently is, quite healthy. However during this time the virus is steadily dismantling the animal’s immune system, destroying the T lymphocytes within the lymphatic system. Then, once there are insufficient T lymphocytes within the body the cat succumbs to any random infection that would normally have been dealt with by its immune system. That’s when the third and final phase kicks in.
In this final stage the body virtually breaks down as the animal becomes ill through infections or minor injuries. Symptoms of feline Aids at this stage can vary from cat to cat but most are likely to display some of the following. Loss of weight, poor coat condition, diarrhea and anemia. The more serious symptoms such as all types of cancer and chronic respiratory infections will probably be the ones that prove fatal. The eyes, skin and urinary tract may also become infected as the immune system collapses in on itself.
Is There a Cure For Feline Aids?
There is to date no known cure for feline Aids but as described above a cat can live a quality life for a number of years before the disease enters its final stage. The emphasis is more about care than cure. The use of anti fungal drugs has been known to offer some protection against infections along with antibiotics. High calorie diets are also a useful idea as these will in some ways supplement the weight loss. Blood transfusions and anti cancer drugs such as Interferon may also have some therapeutic value. The bottom line of course is that every case is an individual and your veterinary practitioner is the only person who can make a clinical assessment. For more detailed information concerning Feline Aids you may like to read this article here.