Feline herpes is described as an acute upper respiratory disease caused by the feline herpes virus type 1, or FHV-1. Feline viral rhinotracheitis is another term for it. It is highly contagious, and spreads quickly from an infected cat to a healthy one through direct contact, or shared food dishes, toys, and litter boxes. This is the reason why the disease is quite common in cats living in a stressed or overcrowded environment.
There are some other factors as well, that tend to increase the chances of FHV-1 transmission. These are: physical or psychological stress, poor sanitation, poor nutrition, and poor ventilation. Kittens, pregnant or lactating cats, and older cats are more vulnerable to this disease. There is an unfortunate thing associated with feline herpes. It is that the FHV-1 virus continues to exist in the nerve cells of the infected cat as long as it's alive. The treatment can relieve the symptoms, but cannot remove the virus from the cat's body.
Feline herpes causes a lot of discomfort to cats. It affects the eye membranes of the cat, and thus, can lead to conjunctivitis. In case your cat is suffering from this disease, you will often find its eyes swollen and red. The eyes also release a pus-like fluid. The presence of pus indicates a secondary bacterial infection. The condition of the eyes may develop into a corneal ulcer.
Another prominent symptoms you can observe is frequent sneezing. The cat develops rhinitis, or inflammation of the nasal lining. There is a discharge from the cat's nose. It begins with a clear fluid that may turn thick and green as the disease advances. It is believed that a cat infected with feline herpes loses its sense of smell. You will see an increase in the body temperature of the cat. It loses its appetite, and tends to get dehydrated. Herpes may lead to abortion in expectant cats. Even if the kittens are born, it is certain that they will have caught the disease from their mother.
You should take your feline friend to a veterinarian as early as possible. The veterinarian will perform a physical examination of your cat. He will take a swab to be sent to a laboratory. Usually, the purpose is to run a PCR (polymerase chain reaction). The PCR amplifies the virus to a great extent. This confirms the presence of FHV-1.
As has already been mentioned, there exists no permanent cure for feline herpes. The medical treatment aims to reduce the severity of the symptoms. The veterinarian is most likely to give your cat antibiotics and antivirals to keep secondary infections at bay. He will prescribe medicines to keep the nostrils and eyes clear of any discharge. If your cat is suffering from a serious lack of fluids, the veterinarian may give it intravenous fluids or subcutaneous fluids. It has been observed that L-Lysine is an amino acid which can suppress the replication of the virus.
Since the condition cannot be treated completely, prevention is the best remedy. A vaccine has been developed to protect the cats from the disease. Get your cat vaccinated as soon as possible and help it lead a healthy life, free from this dreadful viral disease.