Few data are available on the prevalence of feline viruses in European wildcats (Felis silvestris). Previous surveys have indicated that wildcats may be infected with the common viruses of domestic cats, apart from feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). In the present study, 50 wildcats trapped throughout Scotland (UK) between August 1992 and January 1997 were tested for evidence of viral infection. All were negative for FIV by several serological or virological methods. By contrast, 10% of the cats were positive for feline leukemia virus (FeLV) antigen and infectious virus was isolated from 13% of a smaller subset. Of the wildcats tested for respiratory viruses, 25% yielded feline calicivirus (FCV) and although no feline herpesvirus was isolated, 16% of the samples had neutralizing antibodies to this virus. Antibodies to feline coronavirus (FCoV) were found in 6% of samples. Feline foamy virus (FFV) was an incidental finding in 33% of samples tested. This study confirms that wildcats in Scotland are commonly infected with the major viruses of the domestic cat, except for FIV.
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Vol. 35 • No. 1