Review looks at antiviral use in retrovirus-infected cats
A leading professor in small animal medicine is calling for better clinical trials of antivirals following publication of a review into their use in retrovirus-infected cats.
Professor Katrin Hartmann, head of the clinic of small animal medicine at the LMU University of Munich, Germany, says that more well-designed clinical trials would improve judgement on treatment efficacy and side effects.
Antiviral chemotherapy is of increasing interest in veterinary medicine, but is still not commonly used. The review, published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, examines current literature on antiviral chemotherapy in retrovirus-infected cats, focusing on drugs that are currently available on the market, and therefore could potentially be used in cats.
Concluding the review, Professor Hartmann writes: 'Unfortunately, the level of efficacy of antiviral chemotherapy is often poor and the duration of treatments used in clinical trials is often inappropriate for infections with such long clinical courses.
'Additionally, the degree of generalisability between experimental infections in cats kept under laboratory conditions and pet cats infected with field strains is unknown. Therefore, it is very important that more well-designed double-blind, placebo-controlled trials using antivirals in naturally retrovirus-infected cats are undertaken to allow judgement on treatment efficacy and side effects of different antiviral compounds.'
Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) are among the most common infections affecting cats worldwide, but differ in their potential to cause disease. Cats suffering from FIV and FeLV require special management and care and, provided they receive this, can live for many years in good health.
In more severe cases, the advice is to consider incorporating antivirals into the treatment regime. Most antivirals used in cats are licensed for humans and are specifically intended for treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), based on the rationale that FIV and HIV are closely related.
FeLV is not as closely related to HIV, with the result that the available drugs have mostly been found to be less effective against this retrovirus.