Shock as Cat is diagnosed with HIV-like illness

By Brenda Czeda-Radido

Kenyans who keep cats at home as pets have been warned to be vigilant after a cat in Nairobi was found to be infected with a virus similar to the human immunodeficiency virus HIV found in humans.

Pathologists Lancet Kenya say infected cats should be confined indoors to prevent exposure to opportunistic infections or spreading the virus.

A family in Nairobi was shocked when their cat was found to be infected with a virus similar to HIV.

The cat was subjected to laboratory tests by its owner after it exhibited gradual loss of weight over a period of time and lack of energy.

In a statement Pathologists Lancet Kenya say the pet cat, whose blood was tested at their veterinary laboratories was found to have Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), which is in the same family with HIV.

The virus causes the cat-version of AIDS by degrading their immune system, leaving them vulnerable to a host of opportunistic infections. Symptoms are.

Veterinary pathologist at Pathologists Lancet Kenya Dr. Dhaval Shah, is however asking Kenyans who keep cats at home as pets not to panic as the virus cannot be passed to humans

According to Shah the virus is spread between cats through bites during fighting and is urging cat owners to be on the lookout for aggressive behavior in cats or free-roaming cats.

Just like in humans diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, wholesome balanced diets and prompt treatment of opportunistic diseases lengthens and enhances the quality of life of the cats.

Reacting to this development, Kenya Veterinary Association, Honorary Secretary, Dr Kenneth Wameyo, expressed concern over the large population of stray cats in the country.

Due to absence of scientific data, it is not clear the number of cats in Kenya that are infected with this virus.

The FIV virus was first discovered in 1986 in the University of California, USA.




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