Feline Immunodeficiency Virus & Animal Lentiviruses
December 1, 2002 3:51 PM   Subscribe

But what about the kitties? Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. FIV has been recognized as a syndrome since 1986, and as with AIDS, has been found in stored blood samples dating back to the 60s. Unlike HIV, however, for FIV there's a vaccine. Not that everyone is excited about it.

Originally, this was to be a post intended to provide something lighter until this appeared:

In addition, over 25 large cat species including, cheetahs, lions, and panthers have their own strain of the virus. Despite similarity among these viruses, transmission among species has never been documented. Scientists think that FIV is an old virus and may be the grandfather of all immunodeficiency viruses. Comparison of its' genetic code point to a virus that is millions of years old.

Googling led to several topics.
posted by y2karl (3 comments total)
First found was The Lentivirus Family of Retroviruses, then Animal Lentiviruses, which lead to HIV and Visna. Via all this, a new word was learned today: zoonosis.

The implications seem endless--Transgenic organ transplants, for example, pose a potential for introducing a whole new set of retroviruses into humans.

Another new zoonotic disease found via Origins of Aids: How Important is Monkeypox, a whole other ball of wax.
posted by y2karl at 3:52 PM on December 1, 2002

Interesting that FIV has been recognized since 1986. My cat was diagnosed with FIV in 1982 and died shortly thereafter. Explaining to people that she died as a result of "feline AIDS" tends to garner blank stares.
posted by cyniczny at 9:38 PM on December 1, 2002

Wow, did I get the date wrong--1982? I know this is about human suffering today but I will say, as a sidebar, that I had a friend who had a cat with FIV and kept it alive for long, long time, becoming practically a veterinary assistant with the IVs for rehydrating it and monitoring its diet. I suppose it's ethically questionable to invest that much time and money in an animal but what are you going to do? That's the sad part about living with a cat or dog--their lives are so short compared to ours. It's no picnic to go through that over and over. My last cat lived to be 17 and had everything in the world wrong with him. When I finally had to have him put down, I never thought I'd get another--but then I made friends with a bookstore cat and one thing led to another.

On the larger topic, today's Googling has given me much to think about--how all these lentiviruses were recognized more or less at the same time, and spread worldwide so fast. The versions in the wild had, over millennia, become nonfatal asymptomatic riders in their hosts and then jumped to new species, where they became virulent and lethal. My guess is that this has to do with human population growth and the end of the wild. One thing I found out today, which I did not know before, is that there are still a very, very few wild cheetahs in Iran. That was surprising.
posted by y2karl at 11:02 PM on December 1, 2002

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