Michigan 01/12/11 candgnews.com: by Eric Czarnik – Some pet owners let their cats go outside to catch birds and vermin. But Sherman the cat likely caught something else while braving the outdoors: the feline immunodeficiency virus, or FIV. The cat’s West Bloomfield owner, who asked not to be named, said she first learned about the dangers of FIV after noticing a puncture wound on Sherman last July. The owner suspected that the wound came from an animal bite while Sherman was outside in a neighborhood not too far from Civic Center Drive. After she took the cat to the clinic, veterinarians took blood and learned that he had FIV. The disease was news to the owner, who said people need to be aware that the virus is out there.
FIV is a virus similar to the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, according to Dr. Michael Redmer, staff veterinarian of the Michigan Humane Society. After a long latency period, both diseases suppress the immune system and can cause the victim to die from other illnesses. Redmer said young cats should be tested for FIV because they can get it from their mothers during birth. A cat’s
exposure to other cats’ infected saliva or blood can also pose risk. “The only (other) confirmed way of transmission is either a blood transfusion or a bite wound from an infected animal to a negative animal,” he said. Redmer said there are no documented cases of FIV spreading to humans, though he said it could theoretically be possible among people with severely compromised immune systems.
After Sherman was diagnosed, the prevailing belief was that the disease could have come from an earlier bite, and no one knew how much longer Sherman would live. But according to the owner, the cat’s condition worsened over the next few months, and he was put to sleep in December at the age of 12 1/2. “It was horrible,” the owner said. “His kidneys were failing; he wasn’t even eating the last day. It was really quick.”
Oakland County Animal Control’s Sgt. Joanie Toole recommended that pet owners forbid their cats from venturing outdoors, and not just because of disease. “We’ve got an increase in coyotes,” she said. “And (cats) can get hit by a car; they can get poisoned; and there’s no real reason why you need to let your cat out outside.” While Toole said cats can be happy indoors all year round, owners who insist on letting them indulge their so-called wild instincts should make sure that their vaccinations are up to date. The animal should also wear identification, either through a microchip ID or a breakaway collar that prevents the cat from getting caught on anything, she said.
For more information about the history of FIV and preventive measures, go to http://cats.about.com/cs/vaccination/a/fiv_vaccine.htm
“Rabies Elimination in the 21st Century?”
CDC Grand Rounds, January 20 at 1 pm (EST)
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, has extended anopen invitation to wildlife professionals, veterinarians, and others who are interested in following the scientific community’s progress in the fight against Rabies to watch a live broadcast of the next session of CDC’s Public Health Grand Rounds, entitled “Rabies Elimination in the 21st Century?”
This session of Grand Rounds will address traditional and new approaches to disease prevention and control, the importance of evidence-based strategies and interventions for human prophylaxis and animal control, and will highlight current opportunities and challenges in eliminating this disease in both developed and developing countries.
Presenters (Left to Right) Dr. Charles Rupprecht, Chief, Rabies Program, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr Dennis Slate, National Rabies Management Coordinator, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dr Fernando Leanes, Advisor, Veterinary Public Health Unit, Pan American Health Organization, Dr Deborah Briggs, Director, Global Alliance for Rabies Control.