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Feline Immunodeficiency Virus in African Lions

Roelke ME, Brown MA, Troyer JL et al: Pathological manifestations of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection in wild African lions, Virology 390:1, 2009.

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), an important pathogen of domestic cats, also infects other members of the Felidae family, including African lions. Lions have FIV seroprevalence levels of 10% in some populations, and different strains of the virus are known to circulate in much of Africa. It has been unclear whether this virus causes any disease in infected lions, or if it is a host-adapted virus that causes no disease. This study investigated lions in Botswana and Tanzania to determine if there were any clinical correlates with FIV infection. Sixty-four lions in Botswana parks, and 8 lions from the Serengeti Park in Tanzania were sampled. Virtually all FIV-infected animals had gingivitis and poor oral health. Many had papillomatous lesions on the underside of the tongue. Infected lions also had evidence of chronic inflammation. Dehydration was also more common among infected lions, though the underlying cause was not known, as most lived in swamplands with ample water. Anemia was also found more often in infected lions, as was poor coat condition, and lymphoid depletion. The investigators concluded that over time, FIV infections in free-ranging lions can lead to adverse clinical, immunological, and pathological outcomes in some individuals, and could have a detrimental impact on their survival, particularly in times of stress. [MK]
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Related articles:
Pecon-Slattery J, McCracken CL, Troyer JL, VandeWoude S, Roelke M, Sondgeroth K, Winterbach C, Winterbach H, O’Brien SJ. Genomic organization, sequence divergence, and recombination of feline immunodeficiency virus from lions in the wild. BMC Genomics. 2008 Feb 5;9:66.
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Brown EW, Yuhki N, Packer C et al: A lion lentivirus related to feline immunodeficiency virus: epidemiologic and phylogenetic aspects, J Virol 68:5953, 1994.
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