Merck Manual

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Summary of Clinical Management of Feline Retrovirus

Summary of Clinical Management of Feline Retrovirus

Test cats that are:

Sick regardless of age and previous test status

Entering a new household

30 days since last high potential for exposure

At risk with unknown infection status

Receiving routine veterinary care and have outdoor access or live in a home with FeLV-positive cats

Candidates for blood donation

Vaccinate cats that are:

Kittens, as part of the initial vaccination series

Often outdoors

In transient group situations such as foster homes or temporary colony housing

Living with known FeLV-positive cats

Note: All cats should be tested for FeLV before vaccination.

Diagnostic considerations

Antigen tests do not detect previous vaccination.

Positive results on immunofluorescent assay or PCR confirm positive infection status, but a negative result creates a discordant situation that clouds confirmation of true infection status.

Current test modalities cannot exclude the potential of a regressive infection with subsequent negative tests after any initial positive result.

Management of infected cats

Infected cats may have a good quality of life.

Although many cats succumb within 3 yr of diagnosis, others remain clinically healthy for multiple years.

Preventive veterinary care, including frequent physical examination, laboratory monitoring, core vaccination, spay/neuter surgery, dental prophylaxis, and parasite control, is essential.

Avoid transmission to other cats by preventing access to outdoors and other uninfected cats in household.

Many antiviral and immunotherapeutic treatments are described in early trials or anecdotal use, but none has both wide availability and demonstrated clinical efficacy in controlled field studies.

Adapted from the Feline Retrovirus Management Guidelines, American Association of Feline Practitioners, 2008.