The FeLV virus is a fragile virus and can survive for only two hours in a dry environment and 48 hours in damp and moist surroundings. Though it is contagious, it can only be transmitted among cats; it cannot potentially infect humans. Within cats, it is transmitted via intimate moist contact through licking, biting, grooming or eating from the same source. It can also be transmitted through urine, feces and milk. It is also transmitted from an infected mother to her new born kitten (Hoover & Mullins, 1991)
It is usually categorised in the following four classes- FeLV A, B, C and T. Out of these, only FeLV A is transmissible among cats, while the others arise de novo. While FeLV A causes severe immunosuppression, FeLV B and C cause neoplastic diseases and anemia respectively (Poulet et al,2003)
Once a cat is exposed to the virus, there are four possible consequences, depending on the response of the immune system. In about 30% of the cats, the virus evokes a strong immune response, which in turn extinguishes the virus. In another 30% the cats' immune system does not produce an immediate immune reaction. At the same time though, the virus does not manifest its potential effects. It resides safely in a dormant state in the cats' bone marrow. It might express itself later or may remain dormant forever. In the remaining 40% of the cats, the virus is successful and the cats become infected. (Hoover, Mullins, 1991)
Once the virus actively infects a cat, it can have hazardous effects. It can lead to cancerous diseases like leukemia and lymphosarcoma. It also leads to a generalized suppression of the immune system, and may also cause reproductive ailments. Besides these, it also damages the liver and intestine, and is also capable of causing blood infections (Little,2006)
Tests for Diagnosis of FeLV
A few tests have been devised for the detection and diagnosis of FeLV in cats. The most popular out of these screening test is ELISA( Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay). This test is used as a preliminary one, while the IFA(Indirect Immunoflorescent Antibody Assay) is usually carried out for a final diagnosis (Richards et al,2003). In some cases, the PCR or the Polymerase Chain Reaction might also be recommended.
Unfortunately, there aren't any medically proven treatment options available for FeLV infected cats. Though some methods have been devised, none of them have yielded very encouraging results. One such treatment option is the Lymphocyte T Cell Immune System Modulator. This method was partially recognised by the United States Department of Agriculture when it issued a conditional license to practice this method in 2006 (Richards et al, 2006)
The modulator stimulates the immune system through CD4 Lymphocytes, which