The Shocking Truth About The Feline Herpes Virus
In the USA, the feline herpes virus (FHV) is present in 80% of breeding catteries according to a cat breeder who left a comment on this page: Feline herpes running rapid in catteries across U.S.?? Her comment is sensible and believable and is in support of other comments on that page. She says that, "It would be almost impossible for me to purchase a high end titled show cat that hasn't been exposed to Feline Herpes virus....".
A vet advised another American visitor to the page that 70 to 90% of domestic cats have the feline herpes virus. Obviously shelters are just as likely to have a similar rate of infection, perhaps even higher.
I would expect similar problems in other countries, incidentally, but refer to the USA here because I have the information from American visitors to this site - thank you for it by the way. This information is useful because people ask, "How common is feline herpes?". Answer: very common.
Personally, I find the information startling and surprising. Has it always been this way? If not, what happened? Breeders, understandably hide the problem. The only way they can control transmission between cats is to isolate them in cages all their lives - sounds like a pretty miserable life for a cat. Should cat breeders do more to control this disease? Should they be more transparent about it? I would ask the same questions in respect of cat shelter operations.
The virus can be suppressed by the cat's immune system (the cat will be asymptomatic - no symptoms) but the cat will be carrying the virus and spreading it. It is highly contagious and spread by direct contact - nasal and eye discharge and can be spread by people who are in contact with infected cats. As FHV might be in a cat for his or her entire life, the disease can flare up. These flare ups can kept to a minimum provided the cat's immune system is maintained at peak performance.
The virus causes Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR), which is an upper respiratory infection (URI) and a feline viral respiratory disease. Feline herpes virus is one of two major causes of feline viral respiratory disease. Incidentally, the other major cause of feline viral respiratory disease is the Calicivirus group.
There is a vaccine for FHV-1 available but it does NOT prevent infection with FVR. Experienced cat keepers and breeders say that Duralactin Feline L-lysine is one of the best ways to control herpes, feline or human.
There is a Yahoo group: felineherpes, that might help people who are concerned. Yahoo groups are discussion groups.
You can read some more on these pages on this site: