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Herpesvirus Infection in Dogs

General Information

Canine herpesvirus (CHV) infection is a contagious disease caused by a strain of herpesvirus that is related to, but different from, the strains that infect people.

Adult dogs may carry the virus in the lining of the nose, throat, lungs and genital tract without showing signs of illness unless they are stressed by illness or injury. Puppies become infected while still in the uterus, during birth or from secretions of the mother or other infected puppies. Infected puppies under 10 days of age usually die. Puppies over 3 weeks of age may contract CHV but their illness is much less severe and usually appears as a mild respiratory infection. These puppies can shed the virus in their secretions for about 3 weeks after recovery.People are not susceptible to CHV infection.

Important Points in Treatment

1. Isolation of the affected dam and puppies and strict hygiene are essential to prevent infection of healthy puppies.

2. Little can be done for infected puppies under 3 weeks of age. Using heat lamps or a heated whelping box to maintain rectal temperatures of 100-102 F may reduce virus multiplication.

3. Older infected puppies and adult dogs seldom require treatment.

4. Forced feeding of infected puppies may be helpful. The doctor will demonstrate how to tube-feed puppies if you wish to try this procedure.

Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur:

* Deaths continue within the litter, or other litters become

* The dam refuses to eat or shows other signs of illness.


Understanding Your Pet's Diagnosis

Herpes Virus Infection in Dogs

What is herpesvirus infection in dogs?

Herpesvirus infection is a generalized, usually fatal disease in young puppies. All organ systems are affected by the viral infection. This disease is rare in dogs older than 3 to 4 weeks of age.

What causes herpesvirus infection in dogs?

Herpesvirus infection in dogs is caused by the canine herpesvirus (CHV). The virus is common in the worldwide dog population, but disease is infrequent. Puppies less than 2 to 3 weeks of age have immature immune responses to disease and poor regulation of body temperature; therefore, they are exceptionally susceptible to herpesvirus infection. Paradoxically, disease is less common in breeding kennels where herpesvirus is always present (endemic), probably because most dogs have built up immunity from constant exposure to the virus.

What are the signs of herpesvirus infection in puppies?

The signs of herpesvirus infection in puppies vary; some puppies will die without any clinical signs while other puppies will suddenly become very sick. Onset of disease is sudden, with some deaths occurring 12 to 36 hours after the first signs. The course of disease is rapid. Signs of herpesvirus infection include difficulty breathing, runny nose, and lack of appetite. Puppies may have grayish-yellow or green, soft odorless stools. Commonly the puppies will have persistent, agonizing crying with severe gasping before death. Occasionally, puppies may have small hemorrhages on the skin or in the mouth. Sometimes puppies may have mild signs and survive. Puppies that survive often develop complications, such as incoordination or blindness.

How is herpesvirus infection diagnosed in puppies?

Herpesvirus infection is diagnosed by a good history and a physical examination. Characteristic changes are seen on examination of tissue samples. Other infections must be considered. Low platelet counts may be seen on complete blood counts (CBCs). Platelets are necessary to stop bleeding. Other blood tests are of little value. The isolation of the herpesvirus in cultures of tissue cells is accomplished easily from several tissues, especially from the lung and kidney. Isolation of herpesvirus is a definitive diagnosis.

How is herpesvirus infection treated in puppies?

Treatment for herpesvirus infection is not recommended. Antiviral drug therapy generally has been unsuccessful. Immune blood serum from recovered mothers has been beneficial in reducing puppy deaths if it is given before the onset of illness.

What is the prognosis for puppies with herpesvirus?

The prognosis (outcome) for puppies with herpesvirus is poor. Most puppies die from the infection. Puppies that recover from the disease may suffer deafness, blindness, or kidney damage.

The information in this page was obtained from the site www.vetmedcenter.com