Monday, October 17, 2011

Immune Support For Feline Herpesvirus 1

Dr. David Gordon, Holistic Veterinarian
VCA Arroyo Animal Hospital
Lake Forest, CA

What is Feline Herpesvirus 1?

Cats are exposed as young kittens to a variety of viruses. Among the most common is Feline Herpesvirus 1. Feline herpesvirus 1 (FHV-1 or feline rhinotracheitis virus) causes acute respiratory and occular illness known as rhinotracheitis. The virus affects domestic and wild cats worldwide.

Rhinotracheitis is characterized by respiratory symptoms such as sneezing, nasal discharge, rhinitis (inflammation of the nose), and conjunctivitis (inflammation of the membrane lining the eyelid). It also affects the reproductive tract and can cause complications during pregnancy.

Which Cats Are Affected?
80% of all kittens are exposed to FHV-1. Cats of all ages and breeds are susceptible, although it is more common in the following:

Kittens, especially those born to infected mothers

Multicat households, catteries, and pet adoption shelters, especially those with:
--Physical (e.g., temperature) or psychological (e.g., introduction of a new cat) stressors
--Poor nutrition
--Poor sanitation
--Poor ventilation

Pregnant cats that are lactating

Sick cats (especially sickness associated with a weakened immune system or other respiratory infection)

Unvaccinated cats

How is Feline HerpesVirus 1 Transmitted?
FHV-1 is shed through the discharge from an infected cat’s eyes, nose, and mouth. Contact with these secretions is a potential mode of transmission. The most common mode of transmission appears to be contact with contaminated objects that an infected cat has touched or sneezed on including cages, food and water bowls, litter trays, pet owner's clothing, and the pet owner's hands.

The same pathogenesis occurs with the feline herpesvirus as with the human herpesvirus. Once an individual is exposed and the infection is overcome, the virus remains in the body in a quiet or latent form. During the course of the cat's lifetime, the herpesvirus can become active again during times of stress, other disease, or times when the pet's immune response is compromised, and the herpesvirus will again cause the same upper respiratory signs as it did when the cat was younger.

View recommended supplements for feline herpesvirus and other pet viruses