Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) are major causes of morbidity and mortality in domestic and wild felids. Despite the clinical importance of feline retroviruses and the growing interest in cats as pets, information about FeLV and FIV in Malaysia is presently insufficient to properly advise veterinarians and pet owners. A cross-sectional study was carried out from January 2010 to December 2010 to determine the prevalence and risk factors associated with FeLV and FIV among domestic cats in peninsular Malaysia. Plasma samples were harvested from the blood of 368 domestic cats and screened for evidence of FeLV p27 antigen and FIV antibodies, using an immunochromatographic kit. Additionally, data on cat demographics and health were collected using a structured questionnaire, and were evaluated as potential risk factors for FeLV or FIV status.
Of the 368 cats that were evaluated in this study, 12.2% (45/368; 95% CI = 8.88 - 15.58) were positive for FeLV p27 antigen, 31.3%, (115/368; 95% CI = 26.51 - 35.99) were seropositive to FIV antibodies, and 4.3% (16/368; 95% CI = 2.27 - 6.43) had evidence of both viruses. Factors found to significantly increase the risk for FeLV seropositivity include sex, age, behaviour, sickness, and living in a multi-cat household. Seropositive response to FIV was significantly associated with sex, neuter status, age, behaviour, and health status.
The present study indicates that FeLV and FIV are common among domestic cats in peninsular Malaysia, and that factors related to cat demographics and health such as age, sex, behaviour, health status and type of household are important predictors for seropositive status to FeLV or FIV in peninsular Malaysia. High prevalence of FeLV or FIV observed in our study is of concern, in view of the immunosuppressive potentials of the two pathogens. Specific measures for control and prevention such as screening and routine vaccination are needed to ensure that FeLV and FIV are controlled in the cat population of peninsular Malaysia.
Keywords: Feline leukaemia virus, Feline immunodeficiency virus, Prevalence, Risk factors, Cats, Peninsular Malaysia