Transmission and Risk

Cats Touching Noses

Feline herpes virus (FHV-1) replicates within the nasopharyngeal mucosa, tonsils, and conjunctiva and is transmitted within oral and nasal secretions. The main mode of transmission is via direct cat-to-cat contact. The virus can also be transmitted by fomites, which are inaminate objects such as food and water dishes, or contaminated owners, however these modes are less likely as the virus only persists in the environment for 18-24 hours.

Infected cats will usually become lifelong carriers of the virus. The infection remains latent until reactivated due to stress or corticosteroid treatment, at which time the cat is likely to shed virus for a 3 week period following reactivation.

One should practice caution when adopting kittens or cats from shelters as feline herpesvirus infections tend to run rampant in such an ideal environment.  An infected new pet may transmit the virus to your present feline companions.  Your feline friend may also be at risk when entering boarding facilities.  Vaccinations should be up to date when putting any cat into a multi-cat environment.

Link to YouTube Video
Understanding Feline Rhinotracheitis in Kittens