Felis ISSN 2398-2950

Feline herpesvirus disease

Synonym(s): FHV, FHV-1

Contributor(s): Leah Cohn, Susan Dawson, David Godfrey, David Gould

Introduction

  • Cause: Feline herpesvirus-1.
  • Signs: acute upper respiratory tract disease; conjunctivitis, keratitis.
  • Diagnosis: clinical signs, viral testing (PCR, viral isolation).
  • Treatment: antivirals.
  • Prognosis: good, but recrudescent disease is common.
    Print off the owner factsheet on Feline Herpes Virus (FHV-1) Feline Herpes virus (FHV-1)  to give to your client.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

Predisposing factors

General

  • Exposure to an FHV-1 infected cat that is actively shedding the virus in nasal secretions.

Specific

  • Viral infection can cause lysis of turbinate bones producing permanent damage. This may be involved in the development of chronic nasal disease.
  • Infection of the lower respiratory tract can occasionally occur leading to higher mortality.

Pathophysiology

  • Primary infection in tonsils, nasal mucosa, conjunctiva and cornea, causing acute rhinotracheitis, conjunctivitis and ulcerative keratitis.
  • Virus becomes latent in trigeminal ganglion, and lifelong infection ensues.
  • Recrudescent disease develops in immunocompromized or stressed patients, leading to recurrent signs including conjunctivitis and keratitis.
  • Secondary bacterial infection can occur following the primary viral damage.

Timecourse

  • Primary infection: signs develop 2-6 days following infection. Ocular signs usually last 2-3 weeks.
  • Recrudescent infection: ocular signs usually last 2-3 weeks but can be persistent.
  • Most cats show improvement in clinical signs within two weeks.
  • Recrudescence in times of stress is possible throughout life. Important examples of stressors include: visits to boarding cattery, veterinary practices, studs, shows; parturition and lactation; serious illness and corticosteroid administration.

Epidemiology

  • Following acute infection cats become latent carriers of the virus. In common with other alpha-herpesviruses, such as herpes simplex of humans, the virus remains latent in trigeminal ganglia and following periods of stress is re-activated with or without concurrent clinical signs. The carrier state is lifelong and cats are a source of infection to other susceptible cats while they are re-shedding virus.
  • FHV-1 is globally widespread and common - exposure rates >90% have been reported.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

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