What is Feline Herpes?

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Do you find your cat in prolonged sickness? Is she suffering from sneezing, congestion, runny nose, or cold? If yes, then it could be Feline Viral Rhinopneumonitis (FVR) or feline herpes. It is a highly contagious virus most cats get influenced with at least once in their lifetime. It is the major reason behind upper respiratory infections (URIs) or cat flu.

If you’re not sure whether your kitty is suffering from FVR or not, and seeking ways to diagnose it, then you’re at the right place. In this article, you will learn more about Feline Herpes in detail. Without wasting much time, let’s get started.

What is Feline Herpes?

Herpes is a viral infection caused by a special type of virus known as Rhinotracheitis (FVR). It is infectious and attacks both domestic as well as wild cats of all ages. There is no way of spreading this virus to humans or other pet animals in your home.

In medical terms, Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR) is a major reason of upper respiratory disease in cats. It also leads to conjunctivitis – inflammation of the tissue surrounding the eyelids. It is usually spread through contact with discharge from an infected cat’s eye, mouth, or nose.

How are cats affected by Feline Herpes?

When the cats get in direct contact with the virus particles, they become infected with the herpes virus. The virus is released from the discharges in the eyes, nose, and saliva of the cat. Therefore, when the cats come in contact with the infected cats, directly or through any inanimate objects, the viral particles are spread. Listed are some of the common ways for transmission of FVR:

These are some of the ways by which cats can acquire the virus from the affected cats or the environment.

How long will the cats be infected with the herpes virus?

The virus becomes fragile in any environment after two days. When cats have high immunity, they can easily thrive in the environment. But the kittens, old cats, and the cats already in the medication may get affected more easily than the normal cats.

When the cats are infected with the herpes virus, it shows the clinical symptom within 2-5 days, depending upon the intensity. The affected cat can affect other cats during this period. However, once symptoms appear, the active infection will last for 15-20 days.

Being a responsible owner, you need to know that cats carry this virus for a lifetime in its inactive form. But when a cat suffers from any serious disease or if the cat becomes stressed, the virus will be reactivated. In such cases, cats show symptoms of respiratory infection; however, not all cats show symptoms when the FVR in them gets reactivated.

What are the clinical symptoms of the Herpes Virus infection?

The below table will help you understand the symptoms and their manifestation in cats.

Problem Symptoms Duration
Upper Respiratory Infection (URI)
Sneezing and Coughing
Discharge from different body parts
It is a common sign of normal infection. But if cats are affected by the virus, then the affected period will be up to 3 weeks.
Long-term chronic infection
Inflammation of cornea
Developing corneal ulcers.
Swelling of tissues surrounding the eye area
A long-term illness. Dendritic keratitis may occur for various reasons. But FVH can thrive for 3-7 weeks.
Swelling in the skin
Ulcers developed all over the mouth
The nose and mouth develop lumps-like elements.
Front legs are affected
It is a rare condition, but if it occurs, the symptoms last for more than 3-weeks.

The above table clearly explains the different symptoms caused by the Herpes virus. Also, you can see that most of these symptoms look like a generic problem. Therefore, when you find a particular symptom for a prolonged time period, take them to the vet and treat them clinically.

How is the Herpes virus diagnosed?

There is no particular diagnosis required. A sustained presence of the above symptoms is sufficient for the vets to diagnose the FVR. In order to confirm it, oral swabs are taken for laboratory tests to screen the growth of the virus. The growth culture is detected by the PCR technique to find the type of virus. Also, vets find biopsy is an effective method to diagnose various cat diseases, especially when they have skin infections.

What are the treatments for the herpes virus?

The infection of the herpes virus is quite complicated when they are in the second viral infection stage. Antibiotics support the treatments, and good nursing care can help them better. Critical cats are recommended to be hospitalized for intravenous fluid therapy supported by nutritional care.

The treatment involving the eye will require eye drops with a dedicated combination for this virus. It will help in reducing the inflammation in tissues and ulcers. Earlier treatments can help in lowering the severity of the diseases. The dose may vary depending on the intensity of the damage.

The cats having nasal problems are treated under environmental humidification. They are taken to the steamy bathrooms for 10-15 minutes in frequent intervals of time until the irritation and the discharge won’t be under control.

Respiratory treatments are given priority, so the cats do not develop the virus or spread them quickly. Although any treatment is given must be provided along with the antibiotics only. As a pet owner, you can give your kitty health supplements to improve their immune system, such as L-Lysine supplement by NOW Pets; it will help the cast to fight this virus.

Can the virus be killed?

The virus can be readily killed if the environment is subjected to disinfectants. As soon as you find these symptoms, try bleaching the pet place with an effective disinfectant. It will stop the further growth of the virus in them. Soak the objects used by them in the disinfectant and clean them well. The infected cat must be isolated. Along with the treatment and antibiotics, your contribution to killing the virus must be to have them in a safe environment.

Most people are worried that the herpes virus can affect their family members. But that’s not true. However, genuine hygiene practice is recommended. Also, the herpes virus can be prevented by the proper vaccination available. Next time, when you visit the vet, get an opinion on immunization.

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