Game Warden

FIV: feline immunodeficiency virus

60 posts in this topic

Twaffle:

 

Never underestimate the capability of an intelligent person to understand any field of science. The techniques by which geneticists gain their data might not be understandable - you might soon be able to have your entire genome sequenced for a few hundred dollars using techniques only they can understand - but the results and conclusions from any scientific endeavour should be explainable. Well, maybe not astrophysics - that requires people whose neural circuits are wired differently than most of the population!

 

But basically, any scientist who cannot explain the importance of results to the general public in an undertandable way is failing in their duty. I choose that word carefully as it is a duty - who funds the research after all? Taxpayers and donors. You.

 

There was a recent article in the Economist asking some questions about the Human Genome Project. The premise was that now we have the entire genetic sequence of (a few) humans. The project was heavily funded on the basis that with the whole sequence, we would have great breakthroughs in terms of medicine, drugs, understanding why some people get cancer and others not... but now that we have all the letters that make up the genetic alphabet in humans, where are the results in terms of the great progress promised? You can guess.

 

I am way off subject here, sorry. Progress will be made, and has been made at least in terms of understanding the level of incredible complexity of interactions among different parts of the human genome. That is good, but in the mean time do not expect any gene therapy from your local GP!

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Pieter - Thanks for the reply.

 

It certainly mas helped.

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I found this article by Stephen O'Brien from a few years back, "Plagues and adaptation: Lessons from the Felidae models for SARS and AIDS"

 

available from:

 

http://home.ncifcrf.gov/ccr/lgd/retrovirol...BiolConserv.pdf

 

that gives a nice insight into the evolution of our understanding on these topics and in a quite diplomatic way suggests reasons for gaps in knowledge. It's also written in a reasonably accessible manner and includes a few good graphs depicting the Phylogenetic tree for FIV pol-RT nucleotide sequences isolates from indicated Felidae species.

 

Basically in this peace I think you can begin to see the emergence of the acknowledgement that the initial complete dismissal of FIV as a factor in lion morbidity may have been a little too hasty. There's also some discussion on how viruses have crossed the species barrier.

 

It's also interesting to read this article bearing in mind the discussions that have taken place on this forum in relation to what goes on behind the scenes that doesn't make it into your average papers abstract!!

 

Oh in case anyone was interested in the Antunes et al paper's views on the genetic diversity on lions here's a link to a paper that also discusses this topic

 

http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/con.../1598/2119.full

 

The paper makes an interesting reference to the role of captive breeding programmes as a tool for conservation in its conclusion.

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Oh just to note that I find the "Dictionary of Biology" published by Penguin a great help for getting through the technical jargon in these papers!

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Thanks john peter - good articles. I had forgotten about that 2006 O'Brien one - I'm sure you read the bit where they admit that the original conclusion of no relationship between the CDV outbreak in the Serengeti and the FIV status was a bit hasty? All credit for that section goes to Melody Roelke who is a wildlife vet by training and now works closely with O'Brien at the Frederick Cancer Research Facility in Maryland, part of the National Institutes of Health. She later went on to blow the lid off the non-pathogenic stance taken by O'Brien with FIV-ple.

 

You might be interested to know that the FCRF is located on the grounds of Fort Detrick, home to the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command (USAMRMC), with its bio-defense agency, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). One of the buildings there was known as the "anthrax tower" - closed down for years until it was demolished - where biological warfare weapons were made! I was a guest researcher at FCRF for a while... but this was in 1991.

 

I'll soon get a message from Matt to stay on subject in my posts....

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Pieter, not at all sir: Safaritalk topics have a habit of wandering a bit, as you've probably seen...

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Thanks Matt! Always interesting to add a bit of background... it was interesting to have to pass through a gate with armed soldiers on duty to do a bit of genetic research! Now they probably have rentacops on duty, since the US Army does not do research on biological weapons anymore. Right?

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Posted (edited)

One reason, perhaps, why there could still be confusion about the effects of FIVple on lions, are articles on websites that badly need updating. Here's one, for example:

 

http://www.african-lion.org/FIVinLionsFactSheet.pdf

 

Now this article is on the website of the African Lion Working Group, a susbsection of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group. At the bottom you will see that it was written in 2004, so has not integrated any new information since then. I would suggest to Sarel v.d. Merwe, if he is still chairman, that he attends to this urgently?

 

His information on domestic cats is also wrong.....

Edited by Lion Aid

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One reason, perhaps, why there could still be confusion about the effects of FIVple on lions, are articles on websites that badly need updating. Here's one, for example:

 

http://www.african-lion.org/FIVinLionsFactSheet.pdf

 

Now this article is on the website of the African Lion Working Group, a susbsection of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group. At the bottom you will see that it was written in 2004, so has not integrated any new information since then. I would suggest to Sarel v.d. Merwe, if he is still chairman, that he attends to this urgently?

 

His information on domestic cats is also wrong.....

 

Lion Aid at their best....another direct attack at other researchers yet again!

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Posted (edited)

I would have to question why you attack other researchers work on a public forum?

 

Your arguments on FIV sound interesting, though I was wondering what level of peer review they have subjected to?

 

I feel this is important as you seem to publicly peer review the work of others through this site.

 

I do find contradictory statements, perhaps not in science journals, but the main stream press;

 

This article talks about FIV http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2004/f...highereducation

 

Wheras in the this piece, albeit in the Daily Mail of all places, your former Wife/Partner is quoted as saying

 

But Kate reveals: "The project had 230 resident lions but by the time we left it was down to 35 because of poaching and bad population-management by the wildlife services.

 

"At least 68 lions were poisoned, among them Cabernet and Sauvignon. It was heartbreaking.

 

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-...l#ixzz0vv2V3PQ5

 

What do you feel had the more significant impact on your study area?

 

As for the remaining that left, how many lions moved due to the poor floods that changed the dynamics in the Santawani area?

Edited by russell

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Attack, or just difference of opinion? Personally I see it as the latter - it's a fair point that if there is recent material, it should be incorporated - opinions and views may have changed during this period. 6 years is a significant time frame, and it's why I hope that in time the Research / scientific papers forum will be a place where such papers can be published, whether the opinions are in agreement or contrast from one another.

 

Pieter, in what way is his information on domestic cats wrong?

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Matt:

 

In the statement on the ALWG site it says that:

 

"While FIV infection is usually associated with abnormal T lymphocyte counts, this does not necessarily result in a compromised immune system. Some infected domestic cats develop clinical problems resulting in increased mortality, while others show no signs of illness and have a normal life expectancy."

 

In fact, it does result in a compromised immune system among domestic cats, ask any practicing veterinarian. As for cats showing no signs of illness and having a normal life expectancy, this is stretching the facts a lot. While there are strains of FIVfca that seem to have higher levels of pathogenicity than others, and while it is possible to mitigate the effects of FIVfca infection with veterinary care, no infected cat can have a normal life expectancy. Variability has been noted in terms of immune deficiency - in rare cases those can take as long as 7 years or so. These are rare cases, and the article implies that a normal life expectancy is not unusual....

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Russell:

 

Kate Nicholls is responsible for her own statements to the press. There is no way that the number of lions declined from 230 to 35 in the study area. What is correct is that an estimated 60+ lions (including females with dependent cubs) were lost due to human conflict, but this also has to be put into perspective.

 

Let me give you a bit of background. Dereck Joubert got together with then Vice President Ian Khama of Botswana to rightly point out that too many lions were being shot on problem animal control issues by individual farmers. The Wildlife Department then issued a moratorium on such shootings, and instructed the farmers to contact the Wildlife Department Problem Animal Control Unit if they had problems. The farmers then complained - how come we are not allowed to shoot lions anymore but tourists are? The moratorium was then extended to all lion shooting. Rightfully, the safari companies complained. They had had no consultation this was going to happen, and lost finance though booked lion hunting safaris now needed to be cancelled.

 

Meanwhile, our research project was warned that poisoning would take over from shooting, and it certainly did. The farmers were not at all happy with the performance of the PAC unit in terms of response and effectiveness, and elected for the anonymous use of poison.

 

In retrospect, the ban on lion shooting was ill-conceived. A ban was put in place without alternatives to mitigate against livestock loss, although a long running, and overall ineffectual compensation program was in place in Botswana for many years. Why ineffectual? People in rural areas had to travel long distances to make the claim, the claim had to be "checked out", and then claimants had to wait very many months for compensation at rates determined by the Wildlife Department - that might or might not have been fair market value.

 

The ban was rescinded in 2005, but recently revived with Khama now as President.

 

So yes, you are right Russell, the problem animal control and poisoning issues were front and center in terms of lion population losses. I fully accept that as stated before. Nevertheless, we must not lose sight of long-term versus short term threats. Let's propose that the ban on shooting lions in Botswana stays in place, and that the PAC unit and compensation payments become more efficient and responsive. The disease issue will always remain, as it is endemic.

 

I would propose that we address both short term and long-term issues in terms of a lion conservation solution. If we only put out wildfires and we ignore the simmering coals, we are not fully attending.

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Domestic cats...

 

"In utero transmission of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) occurs frequently in queens experimentally infected with FIV-B-2542 and other FIV isolates. Fetal infection has been detected as early as 3-4 weeks gestation, and the incidence of fetal infection increases with progressing gestation. Reproductive failure occurs commonly, including fetal resorptions and developmentally-arrested fetuses, demonstrating that fetal demise occurs early in gestation. Precise, temporal immunomodulation within the placenta is essential for successful pregnancy. Placental Th1 and Th2 cytokines must be appropriately balanced, typically favoring Th2 cytokines at the maternal-fetal interface. Abnormal inflammatory cytokine expression often accompanies miscarriage. Regulatory T cells (Tregs) play an essential role in maternal tolerance of the semi-allogeneic fetus by suppressing inflammation. We are using the FIV-infected cat to examine the relationship between lentivirus-induced placental immunopathology and reproductive outcome. Using TaqMan real time reverse transcriptase (RT)-PCR, we measured relative expression of key immunomodulators in the placentas of FIV-B-2542-infected and control cats, including placentas from both viable and nonviable pregnancies. Our data associate significantly-increased expression of inflammatory cytokines with failed pregnancies, identify Treg markers in the placentas, and provide preliminary evidence that Tregs or other cells bearing similar activation markers may be involved in pregnancy maintenance. Our data suggest that placental inflammation in the FIV-infected cat may compromise pregnancy"

 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19896219

 

Translated - FIVfca infected mothers among domestic cats suffer compromised pregnancies - reproductive failure is common.

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As for lions.... john peter mentioned this article before...

 

"Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) causes AIDS in the domestic cat (Felis catus) but has not been explicitly associated with AIDS pathology in any of the eight free-ranging species of Felidae that are endemic with circulating FIV strains. African lion (Panthera leo) populations are infected with lion-specific FIV strains (FIVple), yet there remains uncertainty about the degree to which FIV infection impacts their health. Reported CD4+ T-lymphocyte depletion in FIVple infected lions and anecdotal reports of lion morbidity associated with FIV sero-prevalence emphasize the concern as to whether FIVple is innocuous or pathogenic. Here we monitored clinical, biochemical, histological and serological parameters among FIVple-positive (N=47) as compared to FIVple negative (N=17) lions anesthetized and sampled on multiple occasions between 1999 and 2006 in Botswana. Relative to uninfected lions, FIVple infected lions displayed a significant elevation in the prevalence of AIDS defining conditions: lymphandenopathy, gingivitis, tongue papillomas, dehydration, and poor coat condition, as well as displaying abnormal red blood cell parameters and elevated liver enzymes and serum proteins. Spleen and lymph node laparoscopic biopsies from free-ranging FIVple infected lions (N=8) revealed evidence of lymphoid depletion, the hallmark pathology documented in immunodefieciency virus infections of humans (HIV-1), macaques, and domestic cats. We conclude that over time FIVple infections in free-ranging lions can lead to adverse clinical, immunological, and pathological outcomes in some individuals that parallel sequelae caused by lentivirus infection in humans (HIV), Asian macaques (SIV) and domestic cats (FIVfca)"

 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/P...report=abstract

 

 

Translated: HIV is a problem in humans, SIV is a problem in macaques (at least), FIVfca is a problem among domestic cats, and FIVple is a problem among lions.

 

In answer to Russell Johnson and Sean Armstrong (aka Zimbo, aka?), the above mentioned reports clearly show that the ALWG website is out of date. It is thus my opinion that an update is required. Are you not in agreement with this?

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This is a highly interesting, though conjectural, paper that has much to say about the evolution of FIV and the impact of zoonoses (diseases affecting humans from an animal origin) on human populations. The paper is a bit heavy on jargon, complicated at times by a French scientist writing in English, but I would recommend it to anyone.

 

In terms of HIV, the paper also makes interesting reading. It has been known for some time that humans with a northern European ancestry have a level of genetic resistance to infection with HIV. As the paper states, this could not have arisen recently enough to have anything to do with exposure to the HIV virus, and it had been thought that the mutation present among northern Europeans arose well in the past, and by chance now confers a level of resistance. Europeans, due to contacts along trade routes, were historically infected with a great number of diseases, and it was originally though that the Black Plague epidemics had a role to play - some people survived, and those were the ones that had the genetic mutation conferring (some) level of resistance. This paper disputes the Plague theory - and proposes that the mutation was present in Europeans perhaps 5000 years ago. Have a read...

 

 

http://www.virologyj.com/content/5/1/119

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In Europe, the north-south downhill cline frequency of the chemokine receptor CCR5 allele with a 32-bp deletion (CCR5-Δ32) raises interesting questions for evolutionary biologists.

 

Well, that's a good start. You need to be keen to get past that first sentence!! :):lol: :lol: I wonder how often I can include 'cline frequency' and 'chemokine receptor' into my conversation tomorrow?

 

But I will plough on..........

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I know how you feel Twaff.

 

Its hard work chewing through these scientific papers. I think I will stick with the summary provided by lionaid.

 

Boy these evolutionary biologists have gone a long way since Darwin. I think this article scores a point for the flat earth society. :)

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Posted (edited)

1

Edited by russell

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In fairness I think the papers cited in this thread were presented as a counter to an earlier publication/fact-sheet that has been referenced across several social networks sites, including this forum I think but I could be wrong, as the main basis for the rejection of FIV as being of any significance to morbidity in lions. So rather than implying that a review of perhaps a half dozen peer reviewed papers is proof in itself, I feel the intention was to highlight the possibly misleading picture provided by earlier postings which implied that the matter was settled when it's more realistic to say that the case is very much the opposite.

 

As for the comments on other researchers work granted these can appear somewhat terse but I have always found it amusing how academics and researchers, who are often portrayed in the publics perceptions as mild mannered geeks, are actually often very vociferous individuals when questioning each others research.

 

Please be restrained if responding to this post as unlike virologists I am of a very timid persuasion!

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Posted (edited)

1

Edited by russell

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Posted (edited)

In fairness I think the papers cited in this thread were presented as a counter to an earlier publication/fact-sheet that has been referenced across several social networks sites, including this forum I think but I could be wrong, as the main basis for the rejection of FIV as being of any significance to morbidity in lions. So rather than implying that a review of perhaps a half dozen peer reviewed papers is proof in itself, I feel the intention was to highlight the possibly misleading picture provided by earlier postings which implied that the matter was settled when it's more realistic to say that the case is very much the opposite.

 

As for the comments on other researchers work granted these can appear somewhat terse but I have always found it amusing how academics and researchers, who are often portrayed in the publics perceptions as mild mannered geeks, are actually often very vociferous individuals when questioning each others research.

 

Please be restrained if responding to this post as unlike virologists I am of a very timid persuasion!

 

Thanks for your input, Peter.

 

I know all too well that such topical issues split academic and professional opinion. I did not realise that this (FIV debate) had been occuring across so many sites........

 

It must be difficult for researchers, to work for 20 plus years, reach a conclusion, only to be informed that their findings are considered incorrect. (or proved so)

 

I bumped into a climate expert after the Wetland Conference in Botswana this year. At the suggestion that the data from East Anglia university raises legitimacy questions around some climate change research, I was effectively labelled a member of the flat earth society. C'est la vie.

 

Funny thing about the research conducted up at UEA. I was fortunate enough to do some research training up there last year using data compiled by Prof Jones at the CRU and the data sets we were looking at, basically rainfall and temperature records in the tropics over the last century, came with proviso after proviso stating the various potential weeknesses in the data record in terms of accuracy. So when it all blew up with accusations over cover ups I was quite bemused to say the least...basically it seems the problem was exacerbated by the university's lack of media savvy.....very sorry for the digression from topic by the way, won't do it again!!

Edited by john peter

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Russell - Please tell us more about to what extent you have been involved in issues such as modelling, data analysis, and research. By that intoduction, would you care to go through the most recent scientific literature and show where I have made mistakes? Let me address your concerns in sequence:

 

"For example, you have only highlighted one paper on the spread of FIV in lions. The sample size for this paper was 357 subjects, spread across the whole of Africa. If the lion population estimate of 20,000 remaining in the wild is used, this represents less than 2%. Is it your assumption that we can extropolate this across an entire population?"

 

Interesting. Research on FIV in lions is necessarily confined to a few populations. I have stated earlier that many questions remain about the FIV status of western African lions, as no data for them is available. I also stated that such research is crucial to understanding the spread of FIV among lion populations in Africa, and to determine whether possibly infected lions in western Africa display new strains of FIVple. Please feel free to point out peer-reviewed papers I might have missed, and do not bother with those published before 2008 when the realization came about that the previous statements about FIVple morbidity "could" have been mistaken. This statement came from the mainstream researchers on FIVple by the way.

 

"As for the second link, it highlights 'Our data suggest that placental inflammation in the FIV-infected cat may compromise pregnancy' They have found a correlation, though is it possible to extropolate this data outside of the sample population. It could simply be a statistical anomaly"

 

Can you find a peer-reviewed paper that says FIV-infected cats reproduce as well as FIV-negative cats? Be my guest, give it your best effort. There is no counter argument.

 

"It is all to easy to cherry pick research that backs your own opinion. I am not suggesting that you have gone this route, though if you want those with 'uniformed opinions' as you referred to some members. You should present a balanced argument. We can make up our minds, rather than the approach taken by many researchers which is to ram their opinion down your throat, discredit others and bamboozle you with terms and graphs to suit their own arguments"

 

Russell, to state in one sentence that I have been cherry picking, and then in the next sentence to suggest that that I have not gone that route, and then to suggest again that I'm bamboozling to suit my own arguments, I would respectfully suggest a simple remedy. It is called "think before you speak or post".

 

Please feel free to suggest peer- reviewed articles that I have not cherry picked to suit my own arguments. Please go ahead, and make sure they are current. If you disagree with me, let's have your soundly-based arguments.

 

Sadly, there is no "balanced argument" about FIVpca or FIVple. Would you like a "balanced argument" about HIV in humans? That was sadly tried in South Africa by the former Minister of Health and Thabo Mebki, former president. Eat garlic, african potatoes, whatnot they said. HIV does not cause AIDS they said. They had their opinions and hundreds of thousands died as they were not supplied with antiretroviral drugs, and maybe hopefully ate garlic instead? Immunodeficiency viruses are a big problem in whatever species they infect. Please inform me they are not so in lions. I will be most pleased to acknowledge in public that I have been wrong all along.

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Posted (edited)

1

Edited by russell

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Russell - If you want to believe that FIV is completely harmless in domestic cats and all but a very small percentage of lions then I have no problem with that. There are those who believe the Earth is 6000 years old, that all fossils resulted from the Flood, and the reason we dont have dinosaurs anymore is because Noah did not want them on the Ark. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions...

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