Viral leukemia in cats: symptoms and treatment
It's not a secret for anyone that today medicine has a lot of useful information about various oncological diseases. Naturally, this fact will not please anyone, because it indicates the wide spread of cancer in society. In addition, often these diseases affect our smaller brothers. A vivid example of this is leukemia in cats (symptoms and treatment, photos of sick animals can be studied in the process of reading the article), often leading to the death of pets. How and why does the disease develop, what can you do to help a pet and what are the predictions?
What is leukemia?
Belokrostie is the second name of the disease under consideration. It is characterized by a significant increase in the number of still immature leukocytes in the blood. This is how the circulatory system is affected and the formation of a new type of lymphoid and myeloid tissue, which is of a malignant nature. Leukemia of blood in cats is caused by RNA virus (family of retroviruses).
It is important to note that the incubation period (the time interval between infection and the appearance of clinical symptoms) in the case of this disease is long enough (from 2 months to 6 years). The insidiousness of the disease lies in the fact that all this time the animal looks perfectly healthy, despite the ability to transmit the leukemia virus to other pets, whose immunity is weakened for any reason.
The disease, as a rule, proceeds chronically and is characterized by anemia, ascites and peritonitis, certain types of renal and hepatic diseases, as well as mammary gland lesions (in cats). It is worth adding that absolutely all breeds can get leukemia (regardless of age or state of health).
Epizootology: patterns of occurrence of the disease
As noted above, the causative agent of FeLV (leukemia virus of cats) is an agent from the family of retroviruses. The disease was discovered in 1964 in Scotland (University of Glasgow) by monitoring domestic cats with diseases of the lymphatic system. In the course of numerous studies and experiments, scientists were able to find out how retroviruses contribute to the appearance of malignant tumors in mammals. By the way, this information played a significant role in the study of retroviral immunodeficiency - AIDS.
Lymphoma is an oncological disease of pets, which is considered the most common among all malignant tumors. It should be noted that it can have a different etiology. In addition, infected cats have higher incidence than uninfected (60-70-fold excess), and it develops in the first 5 years of life. In cats free from this virus, the disease manifests itself on average at 10 years of age.
Viral leukemia in cats: symptoms and treatment
In the course of the course of the disease, in addition to changes in the circulatory system, the cats also have other signs of infection, both specific and non-specific. Thus, in sick animals, there is a significant deterioration in the general condition, reduced immunity, increased fatigue, active exhaustion caused by improper digestion, as well as difficulty in the activity of the heart and urethra. Among the number of non-specific signs that accompany leukemia in cats (symptoms and treatment described in this section), it should be noted a marked increase in lymph nodes and the formation of tumors even in the most unexpected parts of the body. In addition, in some cases, there is eyelash and a significant excess of the allowable size of the spleen and liver.
How is leukemia treated in cats? Symptoms and treatment for today can not be balanced in a logical way, because the method of eliminating the disease has not yet been developed, which is quite effective. Nevertheless, scientists invented the vaccine, which is currently being tested for efficacy through laboratory experiments. Unfortunately, even the most famous modern drugs against tumors, as a rule, do not guarantee absolute recovery. So, the recently discovered vaccine is the only hope for excluding oncological diseases of pets in the future.
The leukemia virus of cats and related diseases
Importantly, leukemia is considered a combination of a number of diseases, in the structure of which there are a great many of their forms: thymus lymphosarcoma, multiple lymphosarcoma, alimentary lymphosarcoma, lymphocytic leukemia and others. They are discussed in detail below.
Nevertheless, absolutely all the elements of the given complex are endowed with a common feature: the relevance of uncontrolled cell division of the hematopoiesis system. The etiology of the disease is due to viral leukemia in cats, which is actual when exposed to the animal organism of the retrovirus. This disease is classified according to the pathogenesis into five stages, which have a certain duration. For example, with an adequate response of immunity, the disease can be eliminated at 6-8 weeks, which corresponds to the second or third stage. The constant presence of the virus in the animal's organism at the fourth or fifth stage, as a rule, is observed after 4-6 weeks after infection. Sometimes this period can reach twelve weeks.
As noted above, viral leukemia in cats (its symptoms are very diverse) has many elements in its structure, among which a special place is occupied by lymphosarcoma of the thymus gland. The most important sign of the disease are tumors of considerable size in the anterior mediastinum. The lymph nodes become larger, nevertheless the spread of the tumor mass to other sites is virtually excluded. In addition, unhealthy cells can be observed in the blood very rarely.
When studying the clinical signs that accompany leukemia in cats (the symptoms and treatment of pathology are interrelated) of this form, one should allocate huge tumor sizes in half a month, which causes rapid breathing, as well as shortness of breath and intolerance to physical loads. In addition, there may be difficulties in swallowing due to compression of the esophagus, as well as the appropriateness of a deaf heartbeat. It is important to note that this form of leukemia is most often observed in cats aged from two to three years.
Leukemia in cats (the symptoms discussed above) can also occur in the form of multiple lymphosarcoma. In this case it is appropriate to involve the tissues of the whole body in the pathological process. Malignant lymphoid cells are subject to infiltration, which is why lymph nodes significantly increase. And this excess of size is bilateral. In addition, the spleen increases, and sometimes the liver.
With multiple lymphosarcoma, moderate anemia occurs (approximately 50 percent of the cases). But in the blood, tumor cells can be observed extremely rarely (about 20% of all situations). Treatment of leukemia in cats afflicted with multiple lymphosarcoma is carried out only after confirmation of the diagnosis (through biopsy of lymph nodes). It is important to note that in 60% of cases this operation has a positive result. Disease, as a rule, affects animals under the age of four.
In the case of lymphosarcoma of alimentary type, malignant masses are located in the walls of the digestive system. In addition, they can spread to the lymph nodes of a mas- terial character. The tumor is often localized in the thick, thin or cecum. Less often it is located in the stomach or rectum. Detection of diffuse infiltration of a significant part of the intestine occurs extremely rarely.
Among the clinical signs of the course of the disease in question, it should be noted a significant weight loss, usually leading to anorexia. In the event that the tumor mass clogs the passage of the small intestine, vomiting appears with a 100% probability. But diarrhea happens when the tumor has developed in the small intestine or in its lower part in a diffuse manner. In addition, with alimentary lymphosarcoma, as a rule, anemia occurs. The disease is relevant for cats at the age of eight. The result of the test for viral leukemia is positive in about 30% of cases.
This type of lymphoma is associated with the effect of the tumor mass on the red bone marrow, after which other tissues are involved in the pathological process by the hematogenous way, which acts much more efficiently than the lymphogenous one. As a result, malignant cells can be observed not only in the circulatory system, but also in the spleen, liver.
Among the relevant clinical signs, it is necessary to identify not entirely specific phenomena: intermittent fever, apathy, and excessive exhaustion leading to anorexia. The diagnosis is confirmed by hematologic activity. Due to the development of anemia, weakness and a complete loss of appetite are appropriate. As a result of thrombocytopenia, petechial hemorrhages occur both in the epidermis and in the mucous membranes. In addition, splenomegaly and hepatomegaly are often observed. But the lymph nodes with lymphatic leukemia increase in size very rarely. When carrying out the disease test of the examined form, a positive result occurs in about 60 percent of cases.
Leukemia in cats: is the disease transmitted to a person or not?
The virus in question is widely spread all over the world, but there is no specific trend of its appearance (for example, depending on seasonality). However, the disease is actively progressing in regions where there is a special accumulation of stray animals, which carry many diseases.
How does leukemia develop in cats? The virus is transmitted through saliva, faeces or urine. In addition, cases of infection through activity of parasites (especially fleas) are known. It is important to note that an adult cat is capable of giving the virus through the placenta an unborn offspring. Thus, as a result of the entry of a pathogenic element into the unformed organism of the kitten, active reproduction in infected tonsils and lymphatic tissues of the infected cells is observed, which subsequently form in the bone marrow.
Many owners of baleen-striped people are concerned about the question: "Does viral leukemia in cats are transmitted to humans or is this phenomenon excluded?" Fortunately, such transmission of the virus is impossible. Therefore, you can drop all doubts and fears, but do not stop controlling the health of your pets.
Prevention of disease
Treatment of leukemia in cats is a very difficult process, but the most sad thing is that achieving a successful result is often impossible. Therefore, it is expedient to carry out a number of measures to prevent the penetration of the virus into the organism of the pet.
The most effective method of protection is vaccination. Vaccine "Leukotsele" ("Pfizer") is widely spread on the territory of Russia. It induces strong immune protection as early as three weeks after administration. The same effect persists for one year. In addition, the drug Purevax FeLV (Merial), developed in France, is also used.
Among the traditional measures to prevent the disease should be allocated periodic washing of cats in hot water, as well as thorough washing of hands after contact with other animals in order to prevent the infection of their pets.
In conclusion, it would be advisable to point out several interesting facts regarding viral leukemia in animals:
- The considered virus is very contagious, especially if it concerns large groups of living beings. This should include not only stray cats, but also representatives of elite breeds, a huge number of which are in nurseries. Thus, not only street animals, but also acquired from a breeder (for a lot of money, notice) may be infected.
- The persistence of the virus is low, so serious disinfection of the room helps in the fight against it. If in the house because of such a disease a cat has already died, it is worth refraining from purchasing a new pet and thoroughly disinfecting all the "secret places" of the former pet.
- If there is only one cat in the apartment, it should be noted that even if infected, it can survive long enough and not get sick, because some animals are asymptomatic carriers of the virus. However, the cat should not contact other animals to prevent infection of their fellow humans. Leukemia in cats (symptoms, photos of sick animals presented in the article) is often a serious obstacle to pregnancy, as the virus penetrates the placenta. In addition, kittens can get infected from the mother through the milk.
- As noted above, the disease carries a huge danger only for cats. Infection of people with a virus of the considered category is completely excluded, which allows you to drop all fears and continue to effectively care for your pet.