New feline infectious disease management guidelines released

Doctors have a new resource to help them manage infectious diseases in their feline patients.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners has released updated Feline Retrovirus Testing and Management Guidelines, published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. The guidelines build on a set previously published by AAFP in 2008.

The new guidelines focus on feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus, which are found in cats worldwide, the announcement said. Feline leukemia is one of the most common infectious diseases in cats and affects between 2 and 3% of all cats in the United States, according to the Cornell University Feline Health Center. Feline immunodeficiency virus affects about 1.5 to 3% of healthy cats in the country.

The spread of these viruses can be minimized through education, testing and vaccinations, said AAFP.

“Education and early testing can greatly assist in the treatment and management of feline retrovirus infections. Routine veterinary care, when cats are well and when they are sick, can lead to better care and decrease the spread of infection,” said Heather O’Steen, CEO of AAFP. The organization’s leaders “stress the partnership between veterinarians and cat owners in caring for infected cats because with regular health care and reduced stress, cats infected with retroviruses, especially FIV, may live many healthy years,” O’Steen said.

“The 2020 Feline Retrovirus Testing and Management Guidelines contain much new information about feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus infections,” said Susan Little, a veterinarian and co-chair of the retrovirus guidelines team. “The guidelines were written by an international panel of experts and included not only retrovirus researchers, but veterinarians working in private practice and in shelters.”

AAFP also offers a client brochure to help cat owners understand transmission, testing, prevalence and precautions to take to prevent disease.