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Iriomote Wild Cat found infected with AIDS virus

Date Posted: 1999-07-03

The already endangered Iriomote Wild Cat is facing an even greater threat with the discovery of a feline form of the AIDS virus in one of the islandís cats.

Researchers at the University of the Ryukyus and the University of Kagoshima who have conducted joint research on the cats since 1995, discovered a feline infected with the FIV virus among cats living near a garbage dump on the island. Researchers have concluded that the number of Iriomote Wild Cats living near and feeding from the garbage dump is on the increase, and are concerned those cats will infect others unless steps are taken to prevent the spread of the potentially fatal virus.

Only 100 of the cats are thought to exist, all on Iriomote Island, a national wildlife park about 350 miles southwest of Okinawa main island. The Iriomote Wild Cat is designated by law as a National Natural Monument of Japan.

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