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What You Need to Know About Feline Herpesvirus
Published 4/19/16 by Maryland Avenue Pet Hospital
Feline herpesvirus (FHV) is a serious and highly contagious virus that causes upper respiratory symptoms in cats. With the exception of feline calicivirus, FHV causes more flu-like symptoms than any other virus. The disease is spread by cat-to-cat contact such as sharing food bowls or litter boxes, contact with saliva or nasal secretions, inhaling sneeze droplets, and living in a contaminated environment. Some of the indications that your cat has contracted FHV include:
Additionally, long-term FHV infection can cause infection and inflammation of the cornea of the eye and inflammation and ulcers of the skin. In these cases, ulcers typically develop around the mouth and nose. Ulceration of the eyes is called dendritic keratitis.
Once a cat has become infected, the virus remains present in his nerve cells. Although that makes the infected cat a lifelong carrier of the virus, he typically does not develop symptoms again or present a threat to other cats. Unfortunately, some cats do shed the virus again after a period of illness or acute stress. This causes them to develop mild symptoms unless shedding of the virus becomes persistent. When that happens, an infected cat can develop the serious skin and eye ulcers described above.
Treatment and Prevention of FHV
If Dr. Stavros determines that your cat has FHV, treatment normally consists of giving your cat an antibiotic for a set time period. In severe cases, your cat may need intravenous fluids. You can help your cat's recovery at home by providing steam inhalation, nebulization, and nutritious food. If you have multiple cats, purchase new food dishes and litter trays for each and then do your best to ensure that each cat uses the supplies meant only for her.
Maryland Avenue Pet Hospital recommends that kittens receive their first FHV vaccine at eight weeks and a booster at one year of age. Thereafter, your cat should receive a FHV vaccine booster every one to three years. Dr.Stavros will recommend a specific timetable when you bring your cat in for his next wellness exam.
Photo Credit: Dragoncello / iStock Photo