Transmission of another gammaretrovirus, Feline Leukemia Virus

ixchelkali

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The discovery of XMRV in respiratory secretions raises still more questions about possible transmission. Of course, until empirical and epidemiological studies are done, its all just conjecture. Most of the supposition Ive seen is based on the way HIV is transmitted. But HIV is a Lentivirus, while XMRV is a Gammaretrovirus. It makes sense to me that as long as were speculating, we might as well look at how another Gammaretrovirus is spread, not to mention how it acts in the body, so I looked up Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV). I found a nice overview put out by the Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine.
http://www.vet.cornell.edu/FHC/news/FeLV.htm

Here are some excerpts:

FeLV is usually spread when an uninfected cat comes in contact with the saliva or urine of an infected cat-while they groom each other, for example, or when they share food bowls or litter boxes.
Viral replication in a newly infected cat usually occurs initially in the mouth or pharynx. Subsequently, newly formed virus particles travel to the cat's lymph nodes or bone marrow, where they infect and replicate within various cells, especially T-lymphocytes and other white blood cells. Particularly vulnerable are the T-lymphocytes known as CD4 cells, which play a key role in the animal's immune system.

If the immune response within the infected host is inadequate, this cycle continues as the virus circulates throughout the body, invades additional lymph nodes, and destroys more disease-fighting CD4 cells. Eventually, evidence of the animal's compromised immune system will start emerging as bacteria, viruses, and fungi that would normally be relatively harmless begin to cause illness.
Among the most frequently diagnosed FeLV-caused conditions are lymphoma (cancer or solid tumors of the lymphatic tissues); leukemia (cancer of various bone marrow and circulating white blood cells); and anemia (a deficiency of red blood cells). Immune deficiency resulting from FeLV infection can also diminish a cat's ability to ward off infection with countless bacteria, protozoa, fungi and other viruses. An FeLV-carrying cat may present with one or more of these diseases, says Dr. Fred Scott, but the underlying cause will be FeLV. It may take many months or years for these other diseases to become evident, although in younger cats it could happen within just a few months.
If your cat has tested positive for one of these viruses, says Dr. Scott, You don't have to consider it a death sentence. First of all, you'd do well to have the animal retested after about three months, since the original test may have yielded a false positive. Secondly, some FeLV-infected cats develop an effective immune response, which controls the viral infection and results in a transient viremia instead of a persistent viremia. In these cats, subsequent FeLV tests will show that the cat no longer has virus in its blood. Finally, while there is no complete cure for FeLV or FIV infection, newer treatments and supportive care can often result in several years of relatively good health.
I might also mention that there is a vaccine against FeLV.

Theres also a largely unsourced Wikipedia article, which describes the symptoms of FeLV infection:
Loss of appetite, poor coat condition, infections of the skin, bladder and respiratory tract, oral disease, seizures, lymphadenopathy (swollen lymph nodes), skin lesions, fatigue, fever, weight loss, stomatitis, gingivitis, litter box avoidance, pancytopenia, poor grooming, reoccurring bacterial and viral illnesses, anemia, diarrhea, jaundice.

Sounds familiar, doesnt it? Well, maybe except for litter box avoidance. Although, now that I think of it, I do try to avoid litter boxes. ;)

So Dr Wessely, are you feeling lucky? Do you want to put your money where your mouth is and have a lick from my ice cream cone?
Maybe the CDC should come out with a recommendation that people diagnosed with CFS should refrain from licking their friends until further research can be conducted.

Seriously, one of the most interesting parts (to me) is that some cats who are infected get sick and others don't. Wish I knew what the difference is. Maybe the ones who get sick have a sickness ideation.
 
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I have been thinking for a few weeks that we should be comparing XMRV to FeLV instead of HIV.

Not as much because of type of retrovirus, but because almost all with HIV will die if not treated. Also, almost all with HIV will get sick.

Seems likely at this time that many with XMRV never get sick, a few get cancer and some get immune system problems (CFS). This seems to match FeLV moreso than HIV.

Tina
 

free at last

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Very interesting post, Is there any evidence at all that Felv could jump the species barrier to humans ? thought i read it can not.
 

jewel

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Very interesting, agreed. I especially am enjoying the idea of sick cat with sickness ideation. Great for a cartoonist...wish I were one.
 
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This comes from Cornell University:

About 2-3 % of cats are infected with FeLV. In high risk cats, the rate is 13%.
Transmission can occur through mutual grooming, bites, sharing litter box or sharing water bowls. The virus only lives a couple of hours outside the body.

A kitten is more susceptible to infection after exposure than an adult cat.

FeLV is the number one cause of cancers in cats. It can cause blood disorders and weakened immune system, making cat vulnerable to every day fungi, bacteria, protozoa and viruses.

Two stages to FeLV. Stage one is early infection stage. Sometimes immune system can lodge an attack and eliminate virus from blood stream, thus preventing progression. Stage two includes persistent infection of the bone marrow. At this point, it is past the point of no return and "overwhelming majority" will have will be fighting the infection for the rest of their lives.

An infected cat should be kept indoors and away from other cats to prevent a secondary infection. Feed it nutritionally complete and balanced diet. Avoid raw food because of the bacteria and parasites.

In second stage, most infected cats succumb to a FeLV-related disease within two-three years. If the cat is already experiencing cancer, persistent fever,or weight loss, a much shorter survival is expected.

Tina
 

Overstressed

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Hi,

I realize that this is happening with me. I regularly have bacterial infections in my intestines, most probably due to the food I eat. Right now, I have it again, much blood in the stool, fever... Never had this before.

Oh my god...

OS.
 

justinreilly

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Very interesting, agreed. I especially am enjoying the idea of sick cat with sickness ideation. Great for a cartoonist...wish I were one.
These malingering cats need to snap out of it and get a job. These hypochondriac cats claim they're infected with a retroviral disease passed by saliva, but everyone knows a retrovirus can't pass through saliva!