Following the discovery of a HIV-like virus in a cat in Nairobi, Kenya, Pathologists at Lancet Laboratories in the country have cautioned cat owners to be vigilant.
The tested cat was said to have exhibited gradual weight loss and lethargy when its owner took it to the veterinary where it was diagnosed to have Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, which is in the same family as the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
Blood tests conducted by the pathologists indicated that the cat had Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), which according to Citizen Digital caused degradation of the immune system. According to the Veterinary pathologist Dhaval Shah who examined the pet:
“This is the first case of serologically-confirmed FIV that we in the veterinary community are aware of in Kenya. Serology refers to the scientific study of body fluids including serum.”
Shah said, however, that members of the public should not be quick to get rid of their cats as the virus could not be transmitted to humans. Kenyans.co.ke quoted him as saying:
“Humans cannot be affected by FIV nor can cats get HIV. This discovery should prompt owners to protect their cats from exposure to the virus by keeping them indoors.
“The virus spreads between cats through bites during fights, hence cat owners should be vigilant against aggressive or free-roaming cats”.
He also said infected cats exhibit symptoms such as fever, weight loss, lymph node enlargement, recurrent bouts of illness, lethargy, loss of appetite and diarrhea. “They also tend to have higher rates of cancers and blood diseases,” he added.
According to health sources, prolonged Feline Immunodeficiency Virus infection could lead to poor coat condition and persistent fever, inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and mouth (stomatitis).
Other complications including chronic or recurrent infections of the skin, urinary bladder, and upper respiratory tract are often present, persistent diarrhea, various kinds of cancer and blood diseases, abortion of kittens and other reproductive failures.