It's World AIDS Day on 1st December so now is as good a time as ever to alert you to the fact that your feline friend can also develop the disease.
What causes Feline AIDS?
Feline AIDS is caused by the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) which affects the immune system of cats. FIV acts in the same way as the human form of HIV, destroying the immune system and leaving a cat susceptible to infections, disease and cancers. Once a cat has been infected, FIV can then progress to feline acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, also known as Feline AIDS.
How is FIV spread?
The virus is most commonly spread from cat to cat through saliva (via a bite wound) but can also be transmitted by a mother cat to her kittens across the placenta or through her milk. Close to 30% of cats in Australia are thought to be FIV positive. Any cat that ventures outside and has contact with an infected cat is at risk. Thankfully FIV cannot be transferred to humans.
Can I prevent the disease?
there is good news for cats and cat lovers as there is a vaccine available to help prevent FIV infection - ask your local Vet about the vaccination program available to help protect your cat. Given that a successful vaccine has been developed against FIV, there is hope that an effective vaccine against HIV will be developed in the future.