- FIV has been detected in domestic cats world-wide.
- FIV can be isolated from most antibody-positive domestic cats.
- Antibody to FIV-like viruses has also been detected in other species of cat both wild and in zoological collections, although there are few isolates from domestic cats.
- The prevalence of antibody in domestic cats varies with the lifestyle and age of the cats; generally about 20% of random 'sick cats' have antibody to FIV compared with less than 5% of healthy cats.
- Infection is more common in male domestic cats than in females, and most infected cats are over 5 years old.
- FIV Infection is more common in free-roaming cats, feral cats, and cats which live in unstable colonies. Antibody can be detected in about one-third of cats in contact with an infected cat.
The main route of transmission is believed to be by inoculation of virus when biting. Large amounts of virus can be isolated from saliva, and transmission by biting has been demonstrated experimentally. Transplacental spread to fetuses has been demonstrated experimentally, but the occasional cases of spread from queen to kittens probably result from horizontal (e.g. virus in saliva or milk) transmission.
The biting theory of transmission fits in with the epidemiology of FIV infection: high risk groups are adult, male, free roaming or live in unstable colonies.
- Pedigree breeding colonies are generally more stable, with less fighting and a lower prevalence of infection.
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