FIV can be isolated from most cats with antibody, so antibody detection is the most frequently used method for diagnosis of FIV infection. Several ELISA and immunoconcentration kits are commercially available for detecting antibody reactive with the core p24 antigen of FIV. These assays are especially useful for the practice laboratory, and kits are available which combine tests for FeLV antigen in the same kit.
Most ELISA-based tests give occasional false positive results, and large diagnostic laboratories therefore often use a further serological test for confirmation. Western blots, are most frequently used as this technique is very specific. However, even with immunoblotting, there can be some difficulty interpreting borderline reactions. Some laboratories use an immunofluorescence assay which is also claimed to be very specific. ELISAs developed in house, which test for antibody against, for example, virus-envelope antigens, are also used by some laboratories. Other techniques, such as radioimmune precipitation assays (RIPA) and virus neutralisation tests, are mainly used for research rather than diagnosis.
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