Lion sera from the Kruger National Park (KNP) dating back to 1977 and from the Etosha National Park (ENP), obtained from 1989 to 1991 , have been analysed by ELISA and Western blot analyses using a genetically engineered antigen representing the p24 structural protein of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). It was concluded that some 83% of 98 KNP lion sera reacted with the p24 antigen, while none of 28 ENP lion sera reacted. A few other KNP felids (cheetahs and genets) gave samples
that did not react with the FIV p24 antigen. For the KNP lions, apart from a lower prevalence in cubs (50%), no particular trends were demonstrated in terms of age, sex, date or origins of the samples. In Western blot and radio-immunoprecipitation analyses the lion sera reacted with the engineered p24 antigen, as well as with the p15 and p24 gag proteins and the p50 gag precursor protein from FIV, indicating that the agent is probably a lentivirus related to FIV. The ELISA with the engineered p24 antigen required less serum and appears to be more sensitive at detecting FlY-reactive antibodies than assays with available commercial kits.
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