Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is a retrovirus that infects cats/kittens. FeLV can be transmitted from infected cats when the transfer of saliva or nasal secretions is involved. If not defeated by the animal’s immune system, the virus can cause diseases which can be lethal. One disease caused by this virus is a form of cancer of the blood cells called Lymphoma.
The signs and symptoms of infection with feline leukemia virus are quite varied and include loss of appetite, poor coat condition, uneven pupils, infections of the skin, bladder and respiratory tract, oral disease, seizures, swollen lymph nodes, skin lesions, fatigue, fever, weight loss, gingivitis, litter box avoidance, recurring bacterial and viral illnesses, anemia, diarrhea and jaundice.
Asymptomatic carriers will show no signs of disease, often for many years.
The disease has a wide range of effects. The cat can fight off the infection and become totally immune, can become a healthy carrier that never gets sick itself but can infect other cats, or a mid-level case in which the cat has a compromised immune system. Nevertheless, the development of lymphomas is considered the final stage of the disease.
Once the virus has entered the cat, there are six stages to a FeLV infection:
· Stage One: The virus enters the cat, usually through the throat where it infects cells. These white blood cells then filter down to the lymph nodes and begin to replicate.
· Stage Two: The virus enters the blood stream and begins to distribute throughout the body.
· Stage Three: The lymphoid system (which produces antibodies to attack infected and cancerous cells) becomes infected, with further distribution throughout the body.
· Stage Four: The main point in the infection- where the virus can take over the body's immune system and cause infection to the bloodstream and intestines.
If the cat's immune system does not fight off the virus, then it progresses to:
Joann with her husband Doug are the owners of TCAR. She takes in and loves every unwanted dog she can.