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Prevention of the contagious spread of feline leukaemia virus and the development of leukaemia in pet cats

Abstract

CLUSTERING of cases of feline lymphosarcoma (LSA) or leukaemia has been observed by veterinarians for many years1–4. The first anti-feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) serum was reported in 19695 and by 1970 a simple indirect immunofluores-cent antibody (IFA) test for the detection of FeLV in the peripheral blood of infected cats had been developed6. Using this test we found that 33% of the healthy pet cats exposed to cats with FeLV-associated diseases were infected with FeLV. All the cats known not to have been exposed to cats with FeLV-associated diseases were uninfected and only 0.31% of the stray cats, with an unknown history of FeLV exposure, were infected3. Once persistently viraemic with FeLV, most cats remain infected for their entire lives. These results showed conclusively that FeLV is transmitted between cats by infection or contagion (that is, horizontally), in contrast to the oncornaviruses of inbred mice which are predominantly transmitted genetically from the parents to the offspring by means of the chromosomes (that is, vertically)7.

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HARDY, W., MCCLELLAND, A., ZUCKERMAN, E. et al. Prevention of the contagious spread of feline leukaemia virus and the development of leukaemia in pet cats. Nature 263, 326–328 (1976). https://doi.org/10.1038/263326a0

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