North Denmark village hit by ‘feline AIDS’ epidemic

North Denmark village hit by 'feline AIDS' epidemic
Photo: Iris/Scanpix
All feral cats in the Danish village of Sønder Onsild must be caught after an outbreak of the feline immunodeficiency virus.

Cats might be said to have nine lives, but this appears to be far from the case in the village, reports local newspaper Nordjyske.

Feline immunodeficiency virus, sometimes called feline AIDS, has been found in at least nine feral cats in the village and surrounding area southwest of the town of Hobro in central Jutland.

Although it cannot be caught be humans or other animal species, cats with the disease can infect each other via biting and scratching. Once infected, the cats cannot be cured.

There is no vaccination against the disease.

The local municipality has agreed to work with Animal Protection Aarhus (Dansk Dyreværn Aarhus) and local cat shelter Min Ven Katten Hobro to capture all the wild cats in the area, reports Nordjyske.

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Cats will be captured on a number of dates over the next month.

Local cat owners are advised to keep their cats indoors during this period if they do not have collars or identifying ear tattoos.

Infected cats can take up to ten years to show signs of infection and kittens are infected in the womb. The disease is diagnosed via blood test.

The disease itself is a viral infection that weakens the cat’s immune system. Symptoms can include general sickliness and infectious diseases such as mouth cavity infections, veterinarian Søren Haubro told local Nordjyske.

This risk can be reduced if the cat is spayed, Haubro said, as less aggressive cats are less likely to scratch and bite.

All captured cats that test positive for the disease will be put down, reports Nordjyske. Cats that test negative will be kept at cat shelters or other institutions.