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Pan-European Study on the Prevalence of the Feline Leukaemia Virus Infection – Reported by the European Advisory Board on Cat Diseases (ABCD Europe)

Clinical Laboratory, Department of Clinical Diagnostics and Services, and Center for Clinical Studies, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland
Department of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases, Research Unit of Epidemiology and Risk Analysis Applied to Veterinary, Fundamental and Applied Research for Animal and Health (FARAH) Center, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Liège, B-4000 Liège, Belgium
Department of Geography, University of Zurich, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland
Clinic of Small Animal Medicine, Centre for Clinical Veterinary Medicine, LMU Munich, 80539 Munich, Germany
MRC- University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, Glasgow G61 1QH, UK
Institute of Virology, Department for Pathobiology, University of Veterinary Medicine, 1210 Vienna, Austria
Bristol Veterinary School, University of Bristol, Bristol BS40 5DU, UK & Chief Medical Officer, Linnaeus Group, Shirley, Solihull B90 4BN, UK
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Department of Biomedical Sciences and Veterinary Public Health (BVF), 750 07 Uppsala, Sweden
Fundació Hospital Clínic Veterinari, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain
Scanelis laboratory, 31770 Colomiers, France
University of Utrecht, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, 3584 CL Utrecht, Netherlands
Dipartimento di Scienze Veterinarie, Università di Messina, 98168 Messina, Italy
Institute of Animal Hygiene and Veterinary Public Health, University of Leipzig, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
Department of Small Animal Diseases with Clinic, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Warsaw University of Life Sciences-SGGW, 02-787 Warsaw, Poland
Veterinary Virology and Animal Viral Diseases, Department of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases, FARAH Research Centre, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Liège University, B-4000 Liège, Belgium
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Università degli Studi di Teramo, 64100 Teramo, Italy
Veterinary Diagnostic Services, School of Veterinary Medicine, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G61 1QH, UK
Tierklinik Strebersdorf, 1210 Vienna, Austria
Veterinarska klinika Kreszinger, 10360 Sesvete, Zagreb, Croatia
University of Veterinary Medicine, 1078 Budapest, Hungary
School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G61 1QH, UK
Institute of Biology and Immunology of Reproduction, 1113 Sofia, Bulgaria
Kleintierklinik BolligerTschuor AG, Fachtierärzte für Kleintiere, 4665 Oftringen – Zofingen, Switzerland
School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
Jamaren - Swedish Veterinary Feline Study Group, 275 71 Lövestad, Sweden
Loomakliinik, 51014 Tartu, Estonia
Bygholm Dyrehospital, 8700 Horsens, Denmark
CatVet Kissaklinikka, 00400 Helsinki, Finland
Slovak Small Animal Veterinary Association, 821 02 Bratislava, Slovakia
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Latvia University of Lifesciences and Technologies, LV-3004 Jelgava, Latvia
Jakov Veterinary Centre, Gerosios Vilties g. 1, LT-03147 Vilnius, Lithuania
Vetalmada, small animal clinic, 2800-052 Almada, Portugal
Small Animal Emergency Clinic, 637 00 Brno-Jundrov, Czech Republic
Department of Animal Protection, Welfare and Behavior, Faculty of Veterinary Hygiene and Ecology, University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, 612 42 Brno, Czech Republic
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Viruses 2019, 11(11), 993;
Received: 26 September 2019 / Revised: 26 October 2019 / Accepted: 27 October 2019 / Published: 29 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feline Viruses and Viral Diseases)
Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) is a retrovirus associated with fatal disease in progressively infected cats. While testing/removal and vaccination led to a decreased prevalence of FeLV, recently, this decrease has reportedly stagnated in some countries. This study aimed to prospectively determine the prevalence of FeLV viraemia in cats taken to veterinary facilities in 32 European countries. FeLV viral RNA was semiquantitatively detected in saliva, using RT-qPCR as a measure of viraemia. Risk and protective factors were assessed using an online questionnaire to report geographic, demographic, husbandry, FeLV vaccination, and clinical data. The overall prevalence of FeLV viraemia in cats visiting a veterinary facility, of which 10.4% were shelter and rescue cats, was 2.3% (141/6005; 95% CI: 2.0%–2.8%) with the highest prevalences in Portugal, Hungary, and Italy/Malta (5.7%–8.8%). Using multivariate analysis, seven risk factors (Southern Europe, male intact, 1–6 years of age, indoor and outdoor or outdoor-only living, living in a group of ≥5 cats, illness), and three protective factors (Northern Europe, Western Europe, pedigree cats) were identified. Using classification and regression tree (CART) analysis, the origin of cats in Europe, pedigree, and access to outdoors were important predictors of FeLV status. FeLV-infected sick cats shed more viral RNA than FeLV-infected healthy cats, and they suffered more frequently from anaemia, anorexia, and gingivitis/stomatitis than uninfected sick cats. Most cats had never been FeLV-vaccinated; vaccination rates were indirectly associated with the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. In conclusion, we identified countries where FeLV was undetectable, demonstrating that the infection can be eradicated and highlighting those regions where awareness and prevention should be increased. View Full-Text
Keywords: FeLV; retrovirus; prevalence; risk factors; protective factors; RT-qPCR; virus shedding; vaccination; gross domestic product at purchasing power parity per capita; veterinary sciences FeLV; retrovirus; prevalence; risk factors; protective factors; RT-qPCR; virus shedding; vaccination; gross domestic product at purchasing power parity per capita; veterinary sciences
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Studer, N.; Lutz, H.; Saegerman, C.; Gönczi, E.; Meli, M.L.; Boo, G.; Hartmann, K.; Hosie, M.J.; Moestl, K.; Tasker, S.; Belák, S.; Lloret, A.; Boucraut-Baralon, C.; Egberink, H.F.; Pennisi, M.-G.; Truyen, U.; Frymus, T.; Thiry, E.; Marsilio, F.; Addie, D.; Hochleithner, M.; Tkalec, F.; Vizi, Z.; Brunetti, A.; Georgiev, B.; Ludwig-Begall, L.F.; Tschuor, F.; Mooney, C.T.; Eliasson, C.; Orro, J.; Johansen, H.; Juuti, K.; Krampl, I.; Kovalenko, K.; Šengaut, J.; Sobral, C.; Borska, P.; Kovaříková, S.; Hofmann-Lehmann, R. Pan-European Study on the Prevalence of the Feline Leukaemia Virus Infection – Reported by the European Advisory Board on Cat Diseases (ABCD Europe). Viruses 2019, 11, 993.

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