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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To examine exposure risks, possibility of zoonosis, and potential disease associations for feline retroviruses among a group of occupationally exposed individuals.

Design—Unlinked voluntary cross-sectional epidemiologic survey.

Sample Population—204 veterinarians, laboratory scientists, and other occupationally exposed individuals who attended a veterinary conference on feline geriatric medicine.

Procedure—Blood was collected from participants who also completed a 13-question survey requesting demographic, occupational, exposure, and health information. Blood specimens were fractionated into plasma and mononuclear cell components. Plasma was tested for antibodies against feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline foamy virus (FeFV), as well as p27 antigen of FeLV. Mononuclear cell lysates were tested for FeLV provirus.

Results—Subjects reported extensive duration of work with cats (mean, 17.3 years) and multiple highrisk exposures (eg, cat bites, scratches, and injuries with sharp instruments) per year. However, neither serologic nor molecular evidence of zoonosis with any of the 3 feline retroviruses was detected.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Veterinarians encounter occupational exposures to animal material that place them at high risk for zoonoses. For feline retroviruses, the risk of zoonosis among healthy adult humans appears to be extremely small. However, potential for retroviral zoonosis, especially for viruses such as FeLV and FeFV that can replicate in human cells, cannot be eliminated, and universal precautions to reduce potential exposures should be used when handling sick cats. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;217:1475–1479)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association