- Several sub-unit and killed vaccines are available. Published reports show that the vaccines appear safe and provide good protection in most experimental challenges.
- Vaccination is recommended for use in cats from 9 weeks of age.
- Some veterinary surgeons recommend routine testing for FeLV antigenaemia prior to vaccination as the vaccine will not eliminate pre-existing infection. However, the cost of such testing needs to be weighed against risk of vaccine apparent failure.
- Vaccination does not cause an antigenaemia and therefore does not interfere standard FeLV antigen assays. Thus the detection of FeLV viraemia or antigenaemia in a vaccinated cat must be due to natural infection, not the vaccine.
- Because the vaccines are not live, the immunity they provide is not lifelong (unlike that often afforded by natural infection) and annual booster vaccination is recommended. Since most cats over 5 years old will have met natural FeLV infection and developed a good immune response to the virus, the benefits versus cost of vaccination of older cats might be considered on an individual basis.
- Although a large market exists for FeLV vaccination among pet cats housed singly, probably it is most useful in breeding colonies where FeLV infection is, or might potentially be, a problem.
- In such a situation, routine vaccination of all cats, but especially young kittens, prevent and control any outbreak without interfering with routine testing or posing any risk of vaccine-induced infection.
- However, because, like most other vaccines, FeLV vaccines cannot provide 100% protection, they should only be used as an adjunct to, not a replacement for, test-and-remove schemes.
- It is important to remember that vaccination does not guarantee that the cat is free from FeLV. It may therefore be a possible source of infection to other cats.
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