Getting AIDs from a cat?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by zhropkick, Jul 14, 2019.

  1. zhropkick a swell guy Banned

    Aug 7, 2018
    A lot of good timelines on this site have alternate epidemics/diseases and they do shape history by killing millions of people, so even though it's more of a biological question it seems fair to post on a what-if site primarily focused on history:

    Could cats have given people AIDs? Why didn't they?

    Feline immunodeficiency virus is in the same genus as HIV. It's generally spread in cats through saliva in deep bite wounds (because cats are nasty buggers to each other), which cats are just as physically capable of inflicting on humans as they are on other cats. Human beings have been exposed to cats for thousands of years while living sedentary existences in densely-populated places. We got HIV from nonhuman primates. Is it theoretically possible to for somebody to have gotten AIDs from a cat? What would FIV turned into *HIV be like if it's possible? What effects would it have had on a preindustrial society?
  2. DocJamore Well-Known Member

    Apr 14, 2015
    United States
    Theoretically, though the chance it could happen is so minuscule it is ASB. You are many of orders of magnitude more likely to die of an infection from a cat bite than some unknown cat virus is going to mutate inside your body and cause an epidemic. This is because viruses are actually very picky about their hosts and is the reason why jumping the "species barrier" is such a big deal. Because it happens so rarely we take it for granted. A primate is far closer in physiology and biology to a human than a cat is. Humans have been living next to primates since forever and yet as far as we are aware this is the first time an epidemic like this has happened in history.

    By the way, rabies doesn't count as an example. Rabies is explicitly a multi-species virus that attacks neuron cells.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
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