Two RNA‐containing viruses, feline infectious peritonitis virus (FIPV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), have been observed to infect cheetahs. Although both viruses cause lethal immunogenetic pathology in domestic cats, only FIPV has documented pathogenesis in cheetahs. We summarize and update here a worldwide survey of serum and plasma from cheetah and other nondomestic felids for antibodies to FIV and FIPV, based on Western blot and immunofluorescence assays. FIPV exposure shows an acute pattern with recognizable outbreaks in several zoological facilities, but is virtually nonexistent in sampled free‐ranging populations of cheetahs. FIV is more endemic in certain natural cheetah populations, but infrequent in zoological collections. FIV exposure was also seen in lions, bobcats, leopards, snow leopards, and jaguars. FIV causes T‐cell lymphocyte depletion and associated diseases in domestic cats, but there is little direct evidence for FIV pathology in exotic cats to date. Because of the parallels with a high incidence of simian immunodeficiency virus in free‐ranging African primates without disease, the cat model may also reflect historic infections that have approached an evolutionary balance between the pathogen and immune defenses of their feline host species. Published 1993 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Animal Science and Zoology