Prevention and Treatment

Vaccine Vial

Feline herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1) is mainly transmitted by direct cat-to-cat contact, and owners should therefore minimize close contact between infectious and naive cats, which are cats that have never been exposed to the virus. FHV-1 only persists transiently in the environment, and most disinfectants or antiseptics effectively inactivate the virus.

At this time, there are no antiviral drugs to treat feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR). Ganciclovir, a human herpes treatment, has shown promise in treating symptoms and is available for off-label use. There is also anecdotal evidence that L-lysine supplementation is a useful therapy, perhaps interfering with viral replication.

A modified live virus vaccine is available and is commonly included in annual vaccination protocols. Vaccines are usually given at 8-9 weeks of age and again in 3-4 weeks, followed by annual booster shots. The vaccine helps to lessen the severity of symptoms, however it does not prevent infection even if given prior to exposure. Cats can still become infected and become lifelong carriers.

Treatment of FVR involves supportive care and symptomatic treatment. Antibiotics are used for secondary bacterial infections, which often occur. Nasal and ocular discharges should be removed for comfort of the animal and nebulizers or saline drops can be used for nasal decongestion. Corneal ulcers are a common symptom of FVR and antibiotic ophthalmic ointments are used for prevention and treatment.