Feline Leukemia Virus Disease Complex (cont.)

Diagnosing FeLV

Currently, there are two tests available to detect FeLV infection.

1. The IFA test, performed by a reference laboratory, detects virus antigen in infected white blood cells. This indicates that the bone marrow is infected and there is a high probability that the cat is persistently viremic and is shedding the virus in his saliva, making him infective to other cats. About 97 percent of IFA-positive cats remain viremic for life and never extinguish the virus.

2. The ELISA test detects virus antigen in whole blood, serum, saliva, and tears. Blood is the recommended sample for testing. A rapid screening leukemia test kit is available for home and veterinary clinic use. The ELISA test is more likely to detect weak, early, or transient infections.

Treating FeLV

Despite research, there is currently no effective treatment for FeLV. Cats who are healthy but FeLV-positive can live long, full lives in many cases. They need excellent care, including parasite control, a strictly indoor life, top-quality nutrition, regular grooming, and minimal stress.

Once ill, there are limited options. These include the drugs ImmunoRegulin, interferon, and acemannan.

This article is excerpted from “Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook” with permission from Wiley Publishing, Inc.