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Feline Leukemia on the Rise Warns White Oaks Veterinary Clinic

EDMOND, Okla., Nov. 22, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- White Oaks Veterinary Clinic is warning that feline leukemia is on the rise in the greater Oklahoma City metro area. Feline leukemia (FeLV) is a virus that only affects cats. FeLV commonly causes anemia and lymphoma, as well as suppressing the immune system, which can increase the risk for deadly infections. Feline leukemia is not a curable condition; Dr. Bianchi says the disease is increasingly fatal for many cats in the Oklahoma City metro area. The disease kills up to 85% of infected cats within three years of infection.

Edmond veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Bianchi is working to educate cat owners about the dangers of feline leukemia and the importance of vaccination to prevent this disease.

“Exposure to infected cats significantly increases a cat’s risk to contract FeLV, especially for kittens and young adult cats,” said Dr. Bianchi. “While the risk for indoor-only cats is low, cats in multi-cat households, especially households where one or more cats are outdoors, increases the risk. The disease can be transferred when cats share food and water dishes as well as litter boxes.”

Feline leukemia is passed between cats primarily via saliva and blood; in some cases the disease may also be passed through urine and feces. Outside of the house, grooming and fighting are the most common ways to transit feline leukemia, says Dr. Bianchi.

Dr. Bianchi notes that, “In general, we’ve also seen a steady increase across the greater Oklahoma City metro area. For this reason, I recommend cat owners talk to their veterinarian about their cat’s lifestyle and whether vaccination is the best option for prevention.”

Symptoms of feline leukemia include pale gums, enlarged lymph nodes, unexplained weight loss and loss of appetite, yellow color in the mouth and whites of the eyes, progressive weakness and lethargy, fever, diarrhea and difficulty breathing.

Feline leukemia is diagnosed with a blood test that identifies FeLV proteins the blood. A second blood test called “IFA” is used to measure the disease’s progression.

“In some cases, a cat with a strong immune system may fight off the infection and clear it from its blood stream,” said Dr. Bianchi. “In this case, the cat will test negative during the IFA test. However, cats that test IFA-positive are considered to be in a more advanced stage for the disease and at risk for complications and early death."

There is no cure for FeLV infection. Dr. Bianchi says that for cats in high-risk households, the best way to prevent feline leukemia is with vaccination.

White Oaks Veterinary Clinic provides FeLV vaccinations, as well as routine pet wellness care including dog and cat vaccinations, pet surgery and emergency care. For more information, call 405-216-4025 or visit www.whiteoaksvet.com.

White Oaks Veterinary Clinic, (405) 216-4025

Source:White Oaks Veterinary Clinic