Early detection of FIV can aid in maintaining the health of an infected cat and can help prevent the spread of the disease. A positive test does not necessarily indicate a poor prognosis but an opportunity to effectively manage the disease long term.
A diagnosis is based on patient history, clinical signs and antibody testing. Hematological and biochemical findings in patients with FIV can be complicated by concurrent secondary infections. Generally, a blood panel will show a neutropenia, thrombocytopenia and a non-regenerative anemia. In some cats a monocytosis and a lymphocytosis may also be observed (11). Biochemical abnormalities may include increased total protein (hyperglobulinemia) and azotemia (6). Bone marrow aspirates may show bone marrow arrest, lymphoma or leukemia. During the early asymptomatic phase of infection, CBC and biochemical analyses are often normal (11).
antibodies can be detected using an ELISA
snap test on cat serum,
plasma or whole
blood samples. False positives are
common with the snap test largely do to increases in vaccine use as the
cannot distinguish between vaccine antibody and antibody against the
virus. Cats that test positive in the
clinic should be confirmed positive by sending away lab samples to be
with PCR or Western blot to rule out false
positive results (6). Cats in the
acute/early phase of infection may
be antibody negative as they have not yet mounted an antibody response
virus. These cats should be retested in
six to eight weeks. Most cats develop a
detectable antibody response within eight weeks of initial infection. It should also be noted that
animals entering the terminal phase of the disease my loose any
antibody in their body due to the debilitating effects of the disease
immune system (6).
Kittens can have colostrum derived antibody in their serum for up to several months post-partum. If a kitten tests positive for FIV antibodies and is less than six months old, retest the animal every 60 days until the result is negative. If antibody against FIV persists past 6 months the kitten is likely infected with FIV (11).
Testing for FIV is indicated in the following situations: