The federal government has approved for commercial use a feline AIDS vaccine developed by the University of Florida, which developers say is the first to prevent the often fatal disease.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has granted a license for Kansas-based Fort Dodge Animal Health to market the product developed by Janet Yamamoto, a professor at UF's College of Veterinary Medicine who co-discovered the feline immunodeficiency virus, commonly called FIV.
Yamamoto said the vaccine is composed of two different FIV strains from the United States and Asia.
"These strains take a long time to cause disease, and once symptoms do occur, the disease is milder," Yamamoto said.
The FIV vaccine is expected to be available to cat owners through their veterinarians as early as this summer. Yamamoto believes the vaccine is safe.
"This is the first product to ever be made available for preventing this viral infection," said USDA spokesman Jim Rogers.
FIV attacks a cat's immune system, causing AIDS. Between 2 percent and 25 percent of the global domestic cat population is believed to be infected with the virus, according to the USDA.