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Viral infections in free-living populations of the European wildcat


Leutenegger, Christian M; Hofmann-Lehmann, Regina; Riols, C; Liberek, M; Worel, G; Lups, P; Fehr, D; Hartmann, M; Weilenmann, P; Lutz, Hans (1999). Viral infections in free-living populations of the European wildcat. Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 35(4):678-686.

Abstract

While the importance of viral infections is well studied in domestic cats, only limited information is available on their occurence and prevalence in the European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris). The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of antibodies to feline coronavirus (FCoV), calicivirus (FCV), herpesvirus (FHV), parvovirus (FPV), immunodeficiency virus (FIV), leukemia virus (FeLV), and FeLV antigenemia in 51 European wildcat sera. Samples were collected between 1996 and 1997 from wildcat populations in France, Switzerland, and Germany. Antibodies to FCoV were detected in two cats (4%) and FCoV RNA was detected in feces of one of these two cats. Antibodies to FCV, FHV and FPV were found at relatively low frequencies of 16%, 4%, and 2%, respectively. Antibodies to FIV were not detected. Although antigen and antibodies to FeLV were detected in 49%, and 75%, respectively, no evidence of FeLV-associated pathology was found. From the low prevalence of FCoV, FCV, FHV and FPV infections and from the fact that the European wildcats live solitarily, it was concluded that these viral infections do not spread readily within a population. Therefore, it may be assumed that release into the wild of European wildcats bred in captivity would not bring about a high risk of introducing of these viral infections to the free-ranging wildcats. As an exception, wildcats should be tested for absence of FIV infection before release if they were at risk to acquire this infection from domestic cats.

Abstract

While the importance of viral infections is well studied in domestic cats, only limited information is available on their occurence and prevalence in the European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris). The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of antibodies to feline coronavirus (FCoV), calicivirus (FCV), herpesvirus (FHV), parvovirus (FPV), immunodeficiency virus (FIV), leukemia virus (FeLV), and FeLV antigenemia in 51 European wildcat sera. Samples were collected between 1996 and 1997 from wildcat populations in France, Switzerland, and Germany. Antibodies to FCoV were detected in two cats (4%) and FCoV RNA was detected in feces of one of these two cats. Antibodies to FCV, FHV and FPV were found at relatively low frequencies of 16%, 4%, and 2%, respectively. Antibodies to FIV were not detected. Although antigen and antibodies to FeLV were detected in 49%, and 75%, respectively, no evidence of FeLV-associated pathology was found. From the low prevalence of FCoV, FCV, FHV and FPV infections and from the fact that the European wildcats live solitarily, it was concluded that these viral infections do not spread readily within a population. Therefore, it may be assumed that release into the wild of European wildcats bred in captivity would not bring about a high risk of introducing of these viral infections to the free-ranging wildcats. As an exception, wildcats should be tested for absence of FIV infection before release if they were at risk to acquire this infection from domestic cats.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Department of Farm Animals
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
630 Agriculture
Uncontrolled Keywords:European wildcat, feline calicivirus, feline coronavirus, feline herpesvirus, feline immunodeficiency virus, feline infectious peritonitis, feline leukemia virus, feline parvovirus, Felis silvestris silvestris, serosurvey
Language:English
Date:October 1999
Deposited On:28 Dec 2016 12:22
Last Modified:17 Dec 2017 07:06
Publisher:Wildlife Disease Association
ISSN:0090-3558
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.7589/0090-3558-35.4.678
PubMed ID:10574526

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