Feline Herpes Virus
Feline herpes virus is one of the more common causes of upper respiratory symptoms in cats of all ages. It is especially common in young cats and kittens in cattery or shelter situations, as well as in those outdoor and often stressed stray cats. Symptoms of feline herpes virus include varying degrees of eye discharge, sneezing and coughing. In severe cases, inflammation of the cornea may occur with sometimes severe ulceration of the cornea with eye spasms and pain being very prominent. In many cases, other viruses including feline leukemia or feline immunodeficiency virus may also occur at the same time, as well as the common development of secondary bacterial infections.
Many veterinarians will often treat with oral or injectable antibiotics to prevent these secondary bacterial infections, as well as topical antibiotics. However, because of the viral nature of this disease, topical antiviral eye drops such as Idoxuridine drops are often indicated, as well as oral viral immune stimulants such as Vetri-DMG liquid and Transfer Factor, which I have found helpful in many cases. Other immune boosting herbs such as echinacea and goldenseal may also be helpful in some cases as well.
In my experience and opinion, I have not found the vaccination for feline herpes viral infection helpful in preventing disease. At best, it may help lessen the severity, but even then I have not found this vaccination that helpful in clinical practice. While most cats will overcome this infection on their own with supportive care, other cats may remain chronic carriers for life, and may be at risk for relapsing or persistent infections of the eyes or airways, particularly under periods of immune or emotional stress.