Feline herpesvirus sort 1 (FHV-1) is a quite common viral an infection in cats that causes higher respiratory infections (feline viral rhinotracheitis; FVR) and ocular illnesses like conjunctivitis.  FHV-1 an infection is the commonest trigger of ocular issues in cats and kittens.

The preliminary an infection most frequently develops in kittens round 8-12 weeks of age, after which most cats (estimated 80%) grow to be carriers of the virus. The dormant virus will flare up in response to stressors, resulting in recurrent signs over the cat’s lifetime.

How Does A Cat Become Infected With Feline Herpesvirus?

Cats grow to be contaminated with FHV-1 by contact with saliva, ocular secretions, and nasal secretions from an contaminated cat.  Most of the time, kittens contract the virus from their mom previous to weaning, however it is also widespread in shelters and catteries as it’s extremely contagious.

After restoration from the first an infection, the virus usually turns into dormant inside nerves and the cat turns into a latent service. This means the virus stays in an inactive kind however turns into reactivated to trigger signs in response to emphasize, steroid use (topical and systemic), or different diseases.

These “flare-ups” are known as recrudescent illnesses and might trigger eye illnesses, higher respiratory signs, or each.  Respiratory signs embrace sneezing assaults, congestion, and nasal discharge. These symptomatic cats are contagious and actively shed the virus throughout these flare-ups.

The normal core vaccines given to cats embrace a vaccine towards FHV-1. While the vaccine gained’t forestall respiratory or eye illnesses from FHV-1, it’s going to reduce the severity and size of sickness.  The vaccine requires booster doses because the immunity will not be life-long and gained’t defend totally towards a excessive dose of virus publicity.

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What Are The Eye Diseases Seen With FHV-1 Infection?

Conjunctivitis is the commonest ocular situation attributable to feline herpesvirus sort 1.

Conjunctivitis is the commonest ocular situation attributable to FHV-1.  Kittens with FHV-1 infections usually have extreme conjunctivitis in each eyes together with respiratory tract infections.

They might grow to be systemically sick with fever and decreased appetites, and will require supportive care.  Adult cats who expertise flare-ups of the FHV-1 virus might solely have signs in a single eye and sometimes lack respiratory signs.

 Symptoms of conjunctivitis embrace:

  • Squinting
  • Swelling and redness of the attention membranes (conjunctiva)
  • Elevated third eyelid
  • Ocular discharge (usually tan coloured and pus-like)

Corneal ulceration is the second commonest ocular situation seen with FHV-1.  Corneal ulcers can develop bacterial infections, which may grow to be extreme sufficient to trigger important scarring and even rupture of the cornea.

Symptoms of corneal ulcers are like conjunctivitis, but additionally embrace:

  • Haze or cloudiness to the cornea (clear window of the attention)
  • A dent or divot within the cornea
  • Redness to the cornea

Other much less widespread eye circumstances related to FHV-1 embrace keratitis, eosinophilic keratitis, corneal sequestrum, and keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye).

How Is An FHV-1 Infection Diagnosed?

Testing is commonly not needed if the cat is displaying the medical indicators of FHV-1 eye illness.

Because FHV-1 is so widespread, testing will not be usually needed if the cat is displaying the widespread medical indicators.

Testing strategies can be found by skilled laboratories utilizing samples from the eyes or nostril and embrace virus isolation, fluorescent antibody (FA) testing, serology reminiscent of ELISA or serum neutralizing titers, and polymerase chain response (PCR) testing.  It is essential to know that these assessments can have false detrimental outcomes.

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An entire ophthalmic examination ought to be carried out in cats exhibiting FHV-1 signs and embrace a fluorescein stain to test for corneal ulcers.  Severe circumstances might profit from referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist.

What Is The Treatment For FHV-1 Eye Diseases?

Treatment of FHV-1 can embrace symptomatic and supportive care, topical antivirals, oral antivirals, and topical and oral antibiotics. Nutritional assist, hydration, and environmental cleanliness are essential for kittens affected by FHV-1 preliminary an infection.

Antiviral medicines are acceptable for each preliminary infections and flare-ups and have been proven to be protected and efficient.  Common decisions are famciclovir (Famvir®) oral tabs and cidofovir topical antiviral drops.

Antibiotics ought to be used if a secondary bacterial an infection is suspected, and your vet might prescribe eye medicines and/or systemic antibiotics.  Corneal ulcers with extreme bacterial infections can require antibiotic eye drops each 1-2 hours to save lots of the attention.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do cats get herpes within the eye?

Cats grow to be contaminated with FHV-1 by contact with saliva, eye secretions, and nasal secretions from an contaminated cat. Kittens most frequently contract the virus from their mother round 8-12 weeks of age, however it’s also quite common in shelters and catteries. The virus causes higher respiratory illness and eye circumstances like conjunctivitis.

Is feline ocular herpesvirus contagious?

Feline herpes virus -1 (FHV-1) is very contagious to cats who haven’t been uncovered to the virus earlier than, reminiscent of younger kittens or unvaccinated grownup cats. The feline herpes virus solely infects home and wild cats and isn’t contagious to different species like canines or people.

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Can feline herpes be cured?

Once a kitten or cat turns into contaminated with FHV-1, they’ll normally grow to be life-long carriers of the virus. About 80% of cats develop the dormant virus, which can flare up in response to stressors, reminiscent of sickness, steroid use, or being pregnant. These flare ups trigger recurrent signs over the cat’s lifetime.

View Sources

Stiles, J, Reinstein, SL. Feline Herpesvirus Ophthalmic Diseases. In: Reinstein SL, ed. Guide to Clinical Ophthalmology. 1st ed. NAVC Media; 2019:93-106.

Stiles J. Feline ophthalmology. In: Gelatt KN, Gilger BC, Kern TJ, eds. Veterinary Ophthalmology. fifth Ed.  Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell; 2013:1477-1559.


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