The pathogenic mechanism underlying FeLV-induced immunosuppression is complex and not well understood. The strain of virus is important, and there may role for the envelope protein, pl5E, which can inhibit lymphocyte growth in vitro. Immunosuppressed cats are susceptible to various secondary infections, the clinical signs associated with FeLV immunosuppression are therefore varied.
- Cats persistently infected with FeLV are particularly susceptible to viral, bacterial and fungal respiratory and enteric infections and enteritis. Such cats are often thin and chronically ill, or have persistent pyrexia.
- May be associated with gingivitis and stomatitis, although in older cats this syndrome is more likely to be associated with feline immunodeficiency virus
- Haemobartonella infection and anaemia is more common in FeLV-infected cats than non-infected cats.
- Clinical feline infectious peritonitis is more common in colonies with FeLV.
- Persistent abscessation or prolonged healing times in young cats may also be due to FeLV immunosuppression.
- An FeLV associated 'panleucopenia-like' enteritis has also been reported, although it has been suggested that this may be linked to undetected feline parvovirus infection.
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