Laboratory diagnosis of feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) usually involves both viruses, as the clinical signs are similar and coinfection may occur. Serological methods may not represent an accurate diagnosis: maternal antibodies or cross-reactions may give false positive results to FIV, and false negative results may occur in latent FeLV status, or in certain FIV infection stages. A nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique was designed to detect FeLV, FIV and feline endogenous retrovirus simultaneously. The detection of endogenous sequences was considered indicative of successful DNA extraction. The technique was used to diagnose FIV and FeLV in the blood cells of 179 cats. The κ value with the serological data was 0.69 for FeLV and 0.87 for FIV. The joint detection of FeLV and FIV by this novel nested PCR is sensitive, specific, fast and convenient, and its applicability for clinical diagnosis is promising, as the direct evidence of the presence of the virus is more realistic than the indirect data provided by the serological detection. © 2006 ESFM and AAFP.
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