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Diseases associated with spontaneous feline leukemia virus (FeLV) infection in cats

Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0165-2427(89)90132-3
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Abstract More than 2000 cats sent for necropsy in order to provide a diagnosis were investigated immunohistologically using paraffin sections for the presence of a persistent infection with feline leukemia virus (FeLV). The spectrum of neoplastic and non-neoplastic diseases associated significantly with FeLV infection was determined statistically. Three-quarters of the cats with persistent FeLV infections died of non-neoplastic diseases and about 23% died of tumors, nearly exclusively those of the leukemia/lymphoma disease complex. A strong association with liver degeneration, icterus and a FeLV-associated enteritis was found in addition to the known association with non-neoplastic diseases and conditions such as anemia, bacterial secondary infections and respiratory tract inflammations due to the immunosuppressive effect of FeLV, hemorrhages and feline infectious peritonitis. Surprisingly, diseases and conditions like feline infectious panleukopenia, enteritis (of other types than FeLV-associated enteritis and feline infectious panleukopenia), glomerulonephritis, uremia and hemorrhagic cystitis were not associated with persistent FeLV infection. Another unexpected finding was that most pathogenic infectious agents demonstrated in the cats were not FeLV-associated either. Thus, immunosuppression due to FeLV infection seems to make the animals susceptible to certain pathogenic infectious agents, but not to the majority.

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