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FIV: Can the biter get it?

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I have a question about FIV transmission. Long story short, 5 years ago I had an FIV+ cat (Bonnie) who was elderly and not aggressive and never exhibited any signs of the disease (she eventually died of kidney failure at age 15). I adopted a second cat (Oliver) who had tested +'ve for FIV on the snap test but negative on the DNA test. Oliver bit Bonnie once when we first adopted him--literally the first minutes he got home. He was never re-tested. When the FIV vaccine came out, my vet recommended they both get it since it can also limit the severity of symptoms. Problem is, once they've been vaccinated they will always test +ve for FIV, even if they don't have it.

So my question is could Oliver have contracted FIV from Bonnie by biting her rather than being bitten? He's had a couple of URI's lately and I'm a bit concerned about his immune system. Or would a blood panel indicate if something was wrong? There's no point in getting an FIV test since it will be +'ve anyway. My vet didn't seem too concerned when he bit her but now I'm wondering if we should have retested him then.

**I think I may have found the answer to my question:

"The FIV virus is present in the saliva, and for transmission to another cat to take place, the live virus has to enter the bloodstream or the recipient cat.

There are two main reasons why FIV isn't transmitted via shared bowls or mutual grooming as is sometimes wrongly suggested:

Firstly the virus is very fragile, and does not live for long once outside the body - it is destroyed by drying, light, heat and basic detergents - normally the virus will be long-dead before any surfaces come to be cleaned, it is the initial drying that sees off the vast majority of the virus, and this will normally happen in seconds.

This is why the route of transmission is primarily via a bite, where the still wet saliva containing the live virus is effectively injected through the skin directly into contact with the blood of the recipient cat.

The second reason is that the mucous membrane is a fairly effective barrier to the virus, so even if some virus does enter the cat's mouth, it is very unlikely to cross the mucous membrane, so will likely die within the stomach. It has been suggested that, for the virus to actually infect a cat when taken in through the mouth, there would need to be ten thousand times as much virus present for it to achieve a cross infection."

...does anyone have any thoughts on why else Oliver might have started getting URI's?
post #2 of 3
I guess it depends how hard he bit her, as it is in their blood and saliva, however there could have been bites you don't know about so I would go on the idea that it is a possibility.

A blood panel could certainly help you know if something was up as he would have a lower white blood count.

You may want to talk to your vet about adding Omega 3 and 6 as well as changing to a higher protein diet to help him if he is as well as treating the URIs.
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
Thanks Icklemiss, I've been thinking about getting a blood panel as he's at least 7 years old (we think he was about 2 when we got him, he may have been older). There's no chance of other bites as we kept them totally separated after that incident. It was a single bite wound that we only discovered when it got infected a few days later.

On the topic of food, he has also been scratching more lately and had a bald spot on his back. The vet gave him dexamethasone and it cleared up but he's still scratching. Could he be having a reaction to his food? He's eaten Nutro Natural Choice indoor dry oceanfish flavour for years and up until now has done great on it, but now I'm wondering if he's developed a sensitivity to something in it. Could that also affect his immune system?
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