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Most FeLV-infected cats are taken to the veterinarian for anaemia or immunosuppression rather than tumours
Most cats will clear the virus from the body after a period of transient viraemia
Approximately one third of all tumour-related deaths in cats are caused by FeLV
FIV-infected cats are five times more likely to develop lymphoma or leukaemia than non-infected cats
Most FIV-infected cats die of FIV-related disease
Lymphoma is a very common tumour in cats, but is only rarely caused by retrovirus infection.
FeLV infection status
There are three major outcomes of FeLV infection: Progressive infection (antigen-positive, provirus-positive cats), regressive infection (antigen-negative, provirus-positive cats) and abortive infection (antigen-negative, provirus-negative, but antibody-positive cats).
Differentiation of these three outcomes is done through testing for antigen, proviral DNA and antibodies.
FeLV & FIV
How common are the clinical syndromes in cats with FeLV compared to cats with FIV and what is the pathogenesis? Think - then click on the syndrome on the left to find out.
Lymphoma is the most common haematopoietic tumour of cats, and feline retrovirus infection is a known risk factor for the development of lymphoma. Three retroviruses have been identified in domestic cats: Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) and feline foamy virus (FeFV), which was previously known as feline syncytium-forming virus (FeSFV). All have a globally widespread distribution but differ in their potential to cause disease. Feline foamy virus is a spumavirus and not associated with clinical disease, including tumour development.
Clinical signs in FIV and FeLV infections vary, and infection with either virus can lead to the development of tumours, haematopoietic and neurological disorders, immunodeficiency, immune-mediated diseases and stomatitis, after a long asymptomatic period. The pathomechanism of these diseases syndroms, however, differs depending on the retrovirus involved.
FeLV: take the test
Click on the answer of choice; the correct answer will highlight in orange.
Read the full pdf for more details.
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Prof, Dr med vet, Dr med vet habil,
Dipl ECVIM-CA (Internal Medicine)
Centre for Clinical Veterinary Medicine
Ludwig Maximilian University Munich
Katrin Hartmann qualified from the College of Veterinary Medicine of the Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) Munich in 1987. She obtained her Dr. med. vet. in small animal internal medicine in 1990. From 1988 to 1996, she was clinical instructor at the Department of Small Animal Medicine at the LMU Munich and from 1996 to 2001 she was assistant professor at the same institution. She became Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Internal Medicine - Companion Animals in 1999 and holds the German title of Fachtierarzt (specialised veterinarian) in both internal medicine and clinical pathology. From 2001 to 2003, she worked as associate professor of internal medicine at the Small Animal Department at the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia (USA). In 2003, she returned to Munich where she still works today as a full professor and chair of the Clinic of Small Animal Medicine at the LMU Munich. In 2009, she was also appointed department head of the Centre for Clinical Veterinary Medicine at the Ludwig Maximilian University Munich. She has a special interest in infectious diseases of dogs and cats.
Katrin is a board member of the European Advisory Board on Cat Diseases and is member of the Feline Vaccination Advisory Panel of the American Association of Feline Practitioners.
Volume 25(3), Autumn 2015
Role of Retroviruses
in Feline Lymphoma
FeLV: take the test
Click here to test your knowledge on FeLV
True or false?
Do you agree with the following statements?
There are three major outcomes of FeLV infection: Progressive ...
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for the FeLV
by Katrin Hartmann
FeLV & FIV
How do they compare?
Lymphoma is the most common haematopoietic tumour of cats, and feline retrovirus infection is a known risk factor for the development of lymphoma. Three retroviruses have been identified in domestic cats: Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) and feline foamy virus (FeFV), which was previously known as feline syncytium-forming virus (FeSFV). All have a globally widespread distribution but differ in their potential to cause disease. Feline foamy virus is a spumavirus and not associated with clinical disease, including tumour development. ...
Read more ...