Demystifying Feline Herpes

This painful condition can be treated and controlled.

By Dusty Rainbolt

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Bogie, an 8-year-old Siamese mix had bounced from home to home. Just weeks after his most recent adoption, he bit his new owner. His veterinarian referred Bogie to animal ophthalmologist, Robert J. Munger, DVM, American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists Diplomate, of the Animal Ophthalmology Clinic in Dallas. Munger quickly discovered the reason behind the cat's behavior: Bogie had painful conjunctivitis (inflammation of the membrane lining the eye) as a result of feline herpesvirus (FHV). With treatment, Bogie quickly became a happy, outgoing cat — his biting habit a thing of the past. 

Feline herpesvirus, the highly contagious disease also known as rhinotracheitis, is one of the most common causes of cat colds. FHV and feline calicivirus (FCV) account for an estimated 90 percent of viral respiratory diseases in cats. But don't panic. Though FHV is in the same family as human herpes, "they're distinct viruses," Munger says. People can't catch it. Cats with FHV will show symptoms such as fever, sneezing, nasal discharge, watery eyes, loss of appetite, inflamed nasal passages and conjunctivitis.  Although mouth ulcers are usually associated with FCV, they sometimes occur in FHV cats. 

**Get the August 2010 issue of CAT FANCY to read the full article.**

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