FOR FeLV-POSITIVE CATS
Can Immunostimulants turn the tide?
by Karen Thomas, DVM
thanasia. Itís often the most recommended (and
humane) so- lution when dealing with FeLV- positive cats. The prognosis for FeLV positive, clinically ill
cats is discourag- ing. But now thereís an alternative, or at least hope, for this growing concern.
In June 1987, I was introduced to ImmunoRegulin (ImmunoVet). The basic premise behind this drug makes sense - adding an immune stimulant to a condition of immune suppression (FeLV). Simply stated, the product is an inactivated whole cell bacteria prepara- tion which signals the body to develop an immune response. Intravenous adminis- tration is recommended to deliver full therapeutic value.
I was curious about the possibili- ties for this product and wanted to try it. I was fortunate in that I already had the perfect case study underway to test the product. Better yet, I was working with an owner who was willing to try anything to save her pet.
The cat we used in this particular study (all information based on available client records) is a Himalayan Persian that the owner wanted to breed. During her breeding soundness checkup, the in- house ELISA test (2/83) indicated the cat to be FeLV-positive. I retested her (10/84) by the IFA test at a private lab and she tested negative to FeLV. We then started her on an FeLV vaccine.
After aborting a kitten in 1985, the owner discontinued breeding efforts. The cat was brought in (12/87) looking list- less and with a poor appetite. ELISA confirmed that she was once again FeLV- positive.
We immediately started standard support measures (blood transfusions, IV fluids, and broad spectrum antibi- otics). In support of the prescribed antibi- otics, (and in lieu of euthanasia), I de- cided to use the product at Ĺ cc with the
following schedule: 1, 3, 7, 10, 14, 20, 82, 33, 49, and every 25-35 days thereafter.
The subject was responding favor- ably to the treatments. We then had an episode (4/90) in which she was vomit- ing and had hemorrhagic spots on her skin. We did blood work again and found she had liver destruction (liver enzyme SGOT 1,200; SGPT 3,837). She had been receiving Ĺ cc of the product once a month from 12/87 through 4/90. She again tested negative to FeLV.
We increased the frequency of the immunostimulant to twice a week, hop- ing to decrease the possible length of time during which the catís antibody level dropped low enough to allow sus- ceptibility to FeLV. I rechecked her on 5/10/90 and her SGOT had dropped from 1,200 to 107, and her SGPT had dropped from 3,800 to 374. The only medicine she was on was the ImmunoRegulin and Clavamox liquid. We have since re- duced ImmunoRegulin treatment back to once a month.
By May of this year the cat weighed a healthy 10 Ĺ lbs, and continues to test negative to FeLV. Even though the ELISA test showed FeLV-negative in
this case, her particular signs were con- sistent with FeLV infection. We know that sometimes cats can
have FeLV, especially in their bone marrow, but test negative.
I have always worked on the as- sumption that her condition is due to FeLV infection. I hope the immuno- stimulant will help her overcome the virus, since we presently donít have any- thing specific to treat it with. We are optimistic she will continue to enjoy a comfortable life.
I have used the product on literally hundreds of cats and some dogs in the past few years. Iíve found that thsoe cats diagnosed as FeLV-positive have re- sponded favorably to the immuno- stimulant. I have never had an adverse drug reaction. I am convinced that an immunostimulant, when used with anti- biotics, can turn the tide on many prob- lems.
At present, ImmunoRegulin is not approved for use in cats (extra-label use only). Based upon the role the product played in assisting immune competence for viral suppressive diseases in my sub- jects, I will be one of the first to support its use once approved.
I donít know how many people call, wanting help with leukemia posit- ive cats. Since I was only able to delay temporarily the death of FeLV-positive cats in the past, I am encouraged with the response ImmunoRegulin has added to our FeLV-positive protocol. Now I feel I have something to offer pet owners who want to do everything possible to save their cat.
Hope, in a lot of cases, is strong medicine in itself.
Dr. Karen Thomas (Michigan State 1970) prac- tices small animal medicine at Three Counties Animal Hospital in Riverdale, Ga 404-471-6047