Overland Park, Kan., | May 22, 2003
A deadly cat virus, known as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, or FIV, continues to spread through the cat population. FIV causes progressive immune disorders that eventually can lead to a disease with no known cure or treatment: Feline Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome ” or feline AIDS*.
“”It is generally believed that transmission of FIV between cats takes place through bite wounds inflicted during fighting. No cat-to-human transmission has ever been reported in the literature.We do, however, see the virus spreading rapidly through the catpopulation with up to 15 percent of at-risk or sick cats alreadyinfected with FIV,”” said Dr. Janet Yamamoto, an immunologist andresearcher who is one of the co-discoverers of the FIV virus.
Now pet owners can protect their beloved cats from becoming infected with this dangerous and untreatable infection. Fort Dodge Animal Health, a division of Wyeth, recently announced the release of the first-ever FIV, or feline AIDS, vaccine, based on patented technology. Fel-O-VaxTM FIV is now available through licensed practicing veterinarians nationwide.
According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), up to one in 12 cats may test positive for FIV, although among high-risk cats, the infection rate may be higher. The virus is transmitted from one cat to another primarily through saliva in bite wounds caused by fighting. FIV is most common among cats thatare exposed to the outdoors and multiple cat households.
Gini Wharton believes her cat, Cyrano De Berge cat, became infected with FIV through a cat fight he encountered on an outdoor adventure. Wharton remembers Cyrano coming home with a big gash on his neck from the fight. A few years later, Cyrano became very ill with a high fever, and after many tests, the veterinarian diagnosed him with FIV.
After consulting Cyrano’s vet, and despite knowing that he would eventually die, Gini decided to bring him home. She knew that Cyrano might not live much longer, but she wanted to be there for him. With constant medical attention, prayers, hand-feeding and lots of love, Cyrano lived for three more years with this devastating disease. Sadly the day came when he couldn’t fight off an infection and died within a week at home in Gini’s arms.
“”Had there been a vaccine available to prevent Feline AIDS, I would have had Cyrano vaccinated. It’s amazing how many people still don’t know about the disease. And, even if they do know about the disease, many don’t know there is a vaccine,”” explained Wharton.
FIV has been found in cats in every region of the country, and is considered highly contagious. The disease is deadly to catsbecause it weakens the animal’s immune system, making it unable tofight off infection or disease. Although symptoms may take years to appear, initial symptoms can include loss of appetite, fever,lethargy, diarrhea, swollen lymph nodes and low white blood cell count. Diagnosis of FIV requires a history of recurring orpersistent infections and positive FIV anti-body detection by anin-hospital screening test.
In the most recent efficacy trial, Fel-O-Vax FIV was 84 percent effective. The vaccine requires an initial dose followed by two boosters, two to three weeks apart, and once yearly thereafter. Thevaccine is recommended as an aid in the prevention of infectionwith FIV. The USDA has approved the FIV vaccine for use in healthycats eight weeks of age and older. The vaccine provides protectionfor a minimum of 12 months.
Because cats who are vaccinated against FIV are likely to test positive for FIV antibodies for one year or more after vaccination,Fort Dodge recommends that all cats be tested for FIV infection by a veterinarian prior to receiving the vaccine. However,administration of Fel-O-Vax FIV to an FIV positive cat will not cause additional harm to the cat.
Fort Dodge Animal Health, a division of Wyeth (NYSE:WYE), is a leading manufacturer and distributor of prescription and over-the-counter animal health care products for the livestock,companion animal, equine, swine and poultry industries in North America and international markets. Key Products include CYDECTIN®Pour-On, QUEST® Gel, EtoGesic® Tablets, ProHeart® Injection,Fel-O-Vax® FIV and InnovatorTM equine vaccines including West Nile virus. The company is headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas.