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Old 05-27-2010, 11:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Feline Leukemia *UPDATE*

So I took my girls in to get spayed today. They also got their vaccinations and were tested for Feline Leukemia and FIV, because the rescue couldn't find any records on if they got the tests or not (long story).

Anyway, the doctor told me that my Pixie had a positive result for Feline Leukemia. The doctor seemed to think that it was a false positive. He seemed fairly certain. But I don't know if he was acting that way to make me feel better or what. She's getting retested in 3-4 months. I'm just freaking out about this. Sprite didn't have a positive test - they bite each other and lick each other all the time. Once, Sprite even had a small wound on her ear. If she does have it, she had to have been exposed before I got her because since I've had her, she's only been exposed to one other cat (who is not ill at all) and all they did was sniff each other. She's been outside on a leash but never come into contact with any outdoor cats or anything.

What are the chances that the test was a false positive? If I took her to my own vet in a week or two, if the test was a false positive, would it show accurate results? I just don't know what to do and my general anxiety disorder is going through the roof right now. I know all about Feline Leukemia - I did my research, I spoke to the vet, and I don't like what I hear.
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Old 05-28-2010, 12:28 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Feline Leukemia

I had taken in a stray with feline leukemia, just to get him neutered and given needed vaccines. He was going from house to house, and everyone was feeding him.

Well, he was diagnosed with feline leukemia, so we isolated him, and had our cats tested. One tested positive, but the follow up test was negative, thank goodness! Evidently, that's fairly common.

We found a wonderful home for "Bandit," and he had four wonderful years being the only baby a young neighborhood couple had.
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Old 05-28-2010, 12:39 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Feline Leukemia

Oh, that is scary!
If it makes you feel any better, my cat Little-one had a false positive when I got him too. I had him tested two more times and they were negative. He was fine!
...but I know you're going to worry until you get that second test done.
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Old 05-28-2010, 01:35 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Feline Leukemia

Thanks, guys.

How long do you have to wait before you test them again? Everything I read online pretty much said 30 days, but the vet wants to wait 3 to 4 MONTHS. I just REALLY want to know, I really want some peace of mind. A part of me keeps trying to reassure the freaking-out part of me that it's most likely a false positive. I've been really upset all day - it's like being told that your child is seriously ill or something.
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Old 05-28-2010, 11:18 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Feline Leukemia

No reason not to test in 30 days--it's your money. So retest then and maybe it will be neg. If it's not, retest again in 2-3 mos.
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Old 05-28-2010, 02:22 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Feline Leukemia

Thanks, Hoof.

I wonder - if the test was actually a false positive, if I retested today or tomorrow, would it show true results (providing that the vet follows directions)?

Maybe I'm just grasping at straws. I'm very stressed. I was told by my own vet, along with several other vets, that given her history it is very unlikely that she does have the virus. She's female (I guess most infected cats are male), she's indoor-only, she doesn't come into contact with any other cats, she's had no symptoms (though that doesn't mean a whole lot, since the virus can be latent for a while). I was also told that it's rare to have a kitten born with the disease - most infected queens have miscarriages or abortions - if they do give birth to live kittens, it's only 1 kitten than survives the birth. Pixie was part of a litter of five and Sprite, her sister, came up negative. UGH. This whole thing is driving me nuts. I should have had the test done by my own vet - I just don't really trust the vet that we went to. He was a little "off", didn't remember which cat was which, and seemed very unconfident.

I did find a traveling low-cost vet in my area who will do the test again for $20. Super cheap and I've heard good things about him. He offers low cost vaccinations, exams, and prescriptions for people who have a lower income. He never charges an exam fee or an office fee. What do you guys think - should I take her there and retest her? Or should I wait? He's only in town on Fridays so if I don't do it today, I will have to wait until next week.
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Old 05-28-2010, 02:53 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Feline Leukemia

Found a few things:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Richards DVM
A: M- There are a number of possible explanations for the situation you are encountering. The screening tests used for feline leukemia in the office in veterinary practices do have a small percentage of false positive results. The exact percentages vary from test to test but they are probably between 1 and 5%. Since a lot of cats will be tested who won't have the disease and only a small number of cats will be tested who do have the disease it becomes somewhat likely that a test that is positive is inaccurate. All cats should be tested at least twice when they show up positive on feline leukemia testing. The other problem is that cats can be negative on a test for feline leukemia and then become positive due to recurrence of a suppressed infection, a new infection or because of a false negative result to begin with. False negative tests are supposed to be less common than false positives, though. The current thinking is that most cats are infected with feline leukemia virus when they are young, less than one year of age. This means that there is a chance that one of your cats is positive and you do not realize it but also a chance that the kittens contacted the disease away from your place-- along with the chance of false positive tests. If you can talk the kitten owners into retesting and then see what the results are you might have a better idea of how much need there really is to retest your cats. Mike Richards, DVM
http://www.vetinfo.com/cfeluktest.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cornell Feline Health Center
DIAGNOSIS OF FeLV INFECTION. Two types of FeLV blood tests are in common use: the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA, or kit test, which can be performed in the veterinarian's office) and the immunotluorescence assay (IFA, Hardy test, or slide test, which must be sent out to a diagnostic laboratory). Both tests detect the p27 protein of FeLV as it circulates in the bloodstream, either free in the blood (ELISA test) or within infected white blood cells (IFA test).

FeLV is present in the blood during two different stages of the infection. The ELISA test can detect the primary (or transient) viremia stage, before the bone marrow has become infected, when the cat's immune system has an opportunity to ward off the virus. Transiently viremic cats characteristically test ELISA-positive and then revert to negative status within about eight weeks. It is important that a positive FeLV test be repeated in eight to twelve weeks to determine whether the viremia is transient or persistent. The ELISA test can also detect the virus in the persistent viremia stage-after the virus, in a certain percentage of cats, invades the bone marrow and establishes a firm and lifelong foothold. ELISA tests are also available to detect FeLV in secretions-saliva and tears. There is some degree of variability in these latter tests, and some positive animals may be missed. At this time, saliva/tear tests are probably best reserved for screening purposes and for testing cats that are difficult to bleed.

The IFA test detects the circulating virus primarily during the second stage. If the infection progresses to this stage, a "point of no return" is reached. Thus the majority of cats testing positive by the IFA test remain positive for life. These cats are shedding FeLV in the saliva and are infectious to other cats. Occasional discrepancies between the two FeLV tests have been noted. When such a discrepancy arises, it is important to remember that the two tests detect FeLV in two different "compartments" of the blood (blood fluid versus white blood cells).

If a cat is positive by ELISA and negative by IFA at the same time, it may mean that the virus is at the primary viremia stage. However, some healthy cats may remain ELISA positive and IFA negative for a prolonged period of time. These cats are still carrying FeLV but are apparently not shedding it in saliva (and thus will not transmit it to companion cats), and most appear to be resistant to the disease-producing effects of FeLV.
http://maxshouse.com/feline_leukemia_virus.htm
More from Cornell: http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/brochures/felv.html
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Old 05-28-2010, 07:06 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Feline Leukemia *UPDATE*

Ok, so because of my anxiety I broke down and took Pixie to the low cost vet to do the feline leukemia test. I figured that if the test from before was a true false positive, that if I did a test today it would be negative. If she came up positive, I figured that there was a good chance that she came in contact with the virus.

Well, he did the test and it came up NEGATIVE!!! WHOOHOO!

I am having her retested in a month and then again 2-3 months after that with the vet who did the spaying. I want to make sure that she is negative but at least the second test eased my mind somewhat. I am the kind of person who obsesses about these things, so it was good that I had a second test done.

In my mind, the test yesterday was definitely a false positive. How likely is it that the virus would go dormant over night? I feel much better. I love both Pixie and Sprite, but Pixie is more my baby, because I a had to force feed her and bring her back to health when I first got her. We bonded over that and she's always been my little cuddle bug, while Sprite is the wild one who likes to fart in people's faces. Anyway, keep for fingers crossed for next month! Thanks for all the help everyone. And thanks for all the info, hoof!
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Old 05-28-2010, 09:23 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Feline Leukemia *UPDATE*

I am so glad to hear that Pixie's test was negative! At least you won't have to worry so much.
There is so much that comes into play with those tests that it's really hard to know what to trust. My Buzzy tested negative about a month before he came into my home. As soon as I got him he went to the vet to be checked and was positive. Apparently he was exposed right before he was tested the first time but it wasn't showing in his blood yet. Also if a cat tests positive soon after it has been exposed, it may still be able to fight off the virus. (Approx. 30% of cats do this according to my feline leukemia group.)
Two of my cats are FeLV+ and asymptomatic, and I have lost two to the disease. Once a cat becomes symptomatic it is very difficult to pull them out of it.

It is just beyond fantastic that Pixie is negative!
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Old 05-28-2010, 11:45 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Feline Leukemia *UPDATE*

Quote:
Originally Posted by katlover13
I am so glad to hear that Pixie's test was negative! At least you won't have to worry so much.
There is so much that comes into play with those tests that it's really hard to know what to trust. My Buzzy tested negative about a month before he came into my home. As soon as I got him he went to the vet to be checked and was positive. Apparently he was exposed right before he was tested the first time but it wasn't showing in his blood yet. Also if a cat tests positive soon after it has been exposed, it may still be able to fight off the virus. (Approx. 30% of cats do this according to my feline leukemia group.)
Two of my cats are FeLV+ and asymptomatic, and I have lost two to the disease. Once a cat becomes symptomatic it is very difficult to pull them out of it.

It is just beyond fantastic that Pixie is negative!
Thanks so much!

What really irritates me is something the rescue woman (Tina, if you've read my other post about the rescue possibly going under, in cat chat) told me today. I emailed her when I got home, just to let her know what has happened, especially since I told her I was interested in fostering. Apparently, the vet told her that the test was a VERY SLIGHT positive. When she requested that he do a second test (which is what's supposed to be done, every vet I've spoken to has said so, along with Hoof's info above) he told her that the tests are very sensitive and didn't recommend doing it! If he had just done the stupid second test, it really would have saved me some heartache. I was so upset that I was crying last night - cats with FeLV have such unknown futures, some can live with it for a long time and show no symptoms, some can pass very fast. I've seen cats die of it and I was just so upset. He seemed like a nice man, but I will NOT be going back to him again. I just won't. If a test shows only a SLIGHT positive, you should definitely retest! If I had known that at the time, I would have demanded it and I think that's why he didn't tell me! I think he's very irresponsible and obviously doesn't care much about people's feelings. For me, my pets aren't pets - they're my family. It was like being told that your child might be deathly sick, but maybe not - come back in 4 months to find out for sure - and then finding out that they only had to run another test to find out for sure. It just makes me crazy when vets act like that - it's like some of them think that because they care for animals and pets, it doesn't matter as much.
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