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Feline viral rhinotracheitis

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Title: Feline viral rhinotracheitis  
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Subject: Feline calicivirus, Feline vaccination, Cat health, Kitten, Domestic cat
Collection: Animal Virology, Cat Diseases
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Feline viral rhinotracheitis

Feline viral rhinotracheitis
Virus classification
Group: Group I (dsDNA)
Order: Herpesvirales
Family: Herpesviridae
Subfamily: Alphaherpesvirinae
Genus: Varicellovirus
Species: Feline herpesvirus 1 (FHV-1)
Feline viral rhinotracheitis infection

Feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR) is an upper respiratory or pulmonary infection of cats caused by feline herpesvirus 1, of the family Herpesviridae. It is also commonly referred to as feline influenza, feline coryza, and feline pneumonia but, as these terms describe other very distinct collections of respiratory symptoms, they are misnomers for the condition. Viral respiratory diseases in cats can be serious, especially in catteries and kennels. Causing one-half of the respiratory diseases in cats,[1] FVR is the most important of these diseases and is found worldwide. The other important cause of feline respiratory disease is feline calicivirus.

FVR is very contagious and can cause severe disease, including death from pneumonia in young kittens. It can cause flat-chested kitten syndrome, but most evidence for this is anecdotal. All members of the Felidae family are susceptible to FVR; in fact, FHV-1 has caused a fatal encephalitis in lions in Germany.[2]


  • History 1
  • Transmission 2
  • Clinical signs 3
  • Diagnosis 4
  • Treatment and prevention 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


FHV-1 was first isolated from cats in 1958 in the United States.[3]


FVR is transmitted through direct contact only.[4] It replicates in the nasal and nasopharyngeal tissues and the tonsils. Viremia (the presence of the virus in the blood) is rare. The virus is shed in saliva and eye and nasal secretions, and can also be spread by fomites. FVR has a two to five day incubation period.[1] The virus is shed for one to three weeks postinfection.[2] Latently infected cats (carriers) will shed FHV-1 intermittently for life, with the virus persisting within the trigeminal ganglion. Stress and use of corticosteroids precipitate shedding. Most disinfectants, antiseptics and detergents are effective against the virus.[4]

Clinical signs

Chronic epiphora in a carrier of FVR

Initial signs of FVR include coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, conjunctivitis, and sometimes fever (up to 106) and loss of appetite. These usually resolve within four to seven days, but secondary bacterial infections can cause the persistence of clinical signs for weeks.[2] Frontal sinusitis and empyema can also result.

FHV-1 also has a predilection for corneal epithelium, resulting in corneal ulcers, often pinpoint or dendritic in shape. Other ocular signs of FHV-1 infection include conjunctivitis, keratitis, keratoconjunctivitis sicca (decreased tear production), and corneal sequestra.[5] Infection of the nasolacrimal duct can result in chronic epiphora (excess tearing). Ulcerative skin disease can also result from FHV-1 infection.[6] FHV-1 can also cause abortion in pregnant queens, usually at the sixth week of gestation,[1] although this may be due to systemic effects of the infection rather than the virus directly.

In chronic nasal and sinus disease of cats, FHV-1 may play more of an initiating role than an ongoing cause. Infection at an early age may permanently damage nasal and sinus tissue, causing a disruption of ciliary clearance of mucus and bacteria, and predispose these cats to chronic bacterial infections.[7]


Diagnosis of FVR is usually by clinical signs, especially corneal ulceration. Definitive diagnosis can be done by direct immunofluorescence or virus isolation. However, many healthy cats are subclinical carriers of feline herpes virus, so a positive test for FHV-1 does not necessarily indicate that signs of an upper respiratory tract infection are due to FVR. Early in the course of the disease, histological analysis of cells from the tonsils, nasal tissue, or nictitating membrane (third eyelid) may show inclusion bodies (a collection of viral particles) within the nucleus of infected cells.[8]

Treatment and prevention

Antibiotics are commonly used to prevent secondary bacterial infection. There are no specific antiviral drugs in common use at this time for FVR, although one study has shown that ganciclovir, PMEDAP, and cidofovir hold promise for treatment.[9] More recent research has indicated that systemic famciclovir is effective at treating this infection in cats without the side effects reported with other anti-viral agents.[10] More severe cases may require supportive care such as intravenous fluid therapy, oxygen therapy, or even a feeding tube. Conjunctivitis and corneal ulcers are treated with topical antibiotics for secondary bacterial infection. L-lysine has been recommended anecdotally to suppress viral replication.[11] A more recent study supports the use of L-lysine for treatment of ocular signs of FHV-1 infection.[12] However other subsequent studies on L-lysine use and FHV-1 showed an increase in disease severity and incidence of detection of FHV-1 where L-lysine was used, bringing into question lysine's usefulness in FHV-1 infections.[13][14]

There is a vaccine for FHV-1 available (ATCvet code: QI06, plus various combination vaccines), but although it limits or weakens the severity of the disease and may reduce viral shedding, it does not prevent infection with FVR.[15] Studies have shown a duration of immunity of this vaccine to be at least three years.[16] The use of serology to demonstrate circulating antibodies to FHV-1 has been shown to have a positive predictive value for indicating protection from this disease.[17] Most household disinfectants will inactivate FHV-1. The virus can survive up to 18 hours in a damp environment, but less in a dry environment and only shortly as an aerosol.[15]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Carter, G.R.; Flores, E.F.; Wise, D.J. (2006). "Herpesviridae". A Concise Review of Veterinary Virology. Retrieved 2006-06-08. 
  2. ^ a b c Ettinger, Stephen J.;Feldman, Edward C. (1995). Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine (4th ed.). W.B. Saunders Company.  
  3. ^ Maeda, Ken; Horimoto, Taisuke; Mikami, Takeshi (1998). "Properties and Functions of Feline Herpesvirus Type 1 Glycoproteins". Journal of Veterinary Medical Science 60 (8): 881–8.  
  4. ^ a b Thiry, Etienne; Addie, Diane; Belák, Sándor; Boucraut-Baralon, Corine; Egberink, Herman; Frymus, Tadeusz; Gruffydd-Jones, Tim; Hartmann, Katrin; et al. (2009). "Feline herpesvirus infection. ABCD guidelines on prevention and management". Journal of Feline Medicine & Surgery 11 (7): 547.  
  5. ^ Stiles, J (1995). "Treatment of cats with ocular disease attributable to herpesvirus infection: 17 cases (1983–1993)". Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 207 (5): 599–603.  
  6. ^ Holland, Jessica L.; Outerbridge, Catherine A.; Affolter, Verena K.; Maggs, David J. (2006). "Detection of feline herpesvirus 1 DNA in skin biopsy specimens from cats with or without dermatitis". Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 229 (9): 1442–6.  
  7. ^ Johnson, Lynelle R.; Foley, Janet E.; De Cock, Hilde E. V.; Clarke, Heather E.; Maggs, David J. (2005). "Assessment of infectious organisms associated with chronic rhinosinusitis in cats". Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 227 (4): 579–85.  
  8. ^ "Feline Respiratory Disease Complex". The Merck Veterinary Manual. 2006. Retrieved 2007-04-01. 
  9. ^ Van Der Meulen, K; Garré, B; Croubels, S; Nauwynck, H (2006). "In vitro comparison of antiviral drugs against feline herpesvirus 1". BMC Veterinary Research 2: 13.  
  10. ^ Malik, R.; Lessels, N. S.; Webb, S.; Meek, M.; Graham, P. G.; Vitale, C.; Norris, J. M.; Power, H. (2009). "Treatment of feline herpesvirus-1 associated disease in cats with famciclovir and related drugs". Journal of Feline Medicine & Surgery 11: 40.  
  11. ^ Gelatt, Kirk N., ed. (1999). Veterinary Ophthalmology (3rd ed.). Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.  
  12. ^ Stiles, Jean; Townsend, Wendy M.; Rogers, Quinton R.; Krohne, Sheryl G. (2002). "Effect of oral administration of L-lysine on conjunctivitis caused by feline herpesvirus in cats". American Journal of Veterinary Research 63 (1): 99–103.  
  13. ^ Drazenovich, TL; Fascetti, AJ; Westermeyer, HD; Sykes, JE; Bannasch, MJ; Kass, PH; Hurley, KF; Maggs, DJ (2009). "Effects of dietary lysine supplementation on upper respiratory and ocular disease and detection of infectious organisms in cats within an animal shelter". American journal of veterinary research 70 (11): 1391–400.  
  14. ^ Rees, TM; Lubinski, JL (2008). "Oral supplementation with L-lysine did not prevent upper respiratory infection in a shelter population of cats". Journal of feline medicine and surgery 10 (5): 510–3.  
  15. ^ a b Gaskell, Rosalind; Dawson, Susan; Radford, Alan; Thiry, Etienne (2007). "Feline herpesvirus". Veterinary Research 38 (2): 337–54.  
  16. ^ Gore, TC; Lakshmanan, N; Williams, JR; Jirjis, FF; Chester, ST; Duncan, KL; Coyne, MJ; Lum, MA; Sterner, FJ (2006). "Three-year duration of immunity in cats following vaccination against feline rhinotracheitis virus, feline calicivirus, and feline panleukopenia virus". Veterinary therapeutics : research in applied veterinary medicine 7 (3): 213–22.  
  17. ^ Lappin, Michael R. (2006). "Use of serological tests to determine vaccine needs". Proceedings of the North American Veterinary Conference. 

External links

  • Felipedia
  • from The Pet Health LibraryFeline Upper Respiratory Disease
  • [2]
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