Cat herpes, also known as feline rhinotracheitis is a disease primarily caused by herpes virus type 1. The virus is known to infect domestic and wild cats. It is a major cause of upper respiratory disease among cats and commonly presents with conjunctivitis.
The virus infects cats via direct contact with virus particles. It is mostly found in saliva and it discharges from the eyes and nose of an infected cat. Even though the virus affects all kinds of cats, the infection is more severe in younger ones or cats that have an underlying disease. Carrier cats giving birth to kittens may contract and pass on the virus to newborns. These newborns usually develop symptoms after several weeks and the infection is severe in nature.
The feline herpes virus commonly affects the nose, throat and eyes. These cats usually present with sneezing, nasal congestion, conjunctivitis, excessive blinking and discharges from the eyes and nose. The discharge can be watery or purulent in nature. The virus also causes keratitis, inflammation of cornea and corneal ulcers.
Other symptoms include:
- Poor appetite
- Enlarged lymph nodes
Feline herpes virus can be identified by polymerase chain reaction and is the most sensitive for it.
Cats with a simple infection are usually treated symptomatically.
- Conjunctivitis and keratitis is treated using topical eye medications. Supplementation with L-lysine is also used.
- Broad spectrum antibiotics are given to prevent secondary bacterial infections which might complicate the disease.
- Cats with nasal or airway congestion can be helped with environmental humidification. Make sure you wipe away excessive discharge from their face to prevent them from getting irritated.
- It is very easy for your cat to get dehydrated, make sure you help them drink plenty of water or give intravenous fluid replacement.