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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 16912
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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I have just been told that a Cat I adopted from Romania

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Hi I have just been told that a Cat I adopted from Romania (Sammy) has a 95% chance that he has the Herpes Virus. He was blind from a kitten after having Cat flu when he was a stray.
I am now worried for my other cat (Cola). Cola is 6 and healthy, I purchased him at 8 weeks old from a pet shop in the UK. All his vaccinations are up-to-date. What is the chance of him getting herpes from Sammy and how will it affect them both?
In addition I was thinking about fostering 2 kittens also strays currently in Romania. I have been told that there is a high chance that they too have the herpes virus as they come from the same stray colony.
Should I still foster or leave it at just Cola and Sammy? I am not sure what to do for the best. Cola is my absolute world, I just don't want to put him in danger. Thank you for your help.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I understand that you have questions regarding Herpes virus in cats and what sort of danger that poses for them.Cat flu is a generic name for upper respiratory infections in cats. It can be secondary to Herpes, Calici Virus, Chlamydia and Bordetella. I think in this case when they say Sammy had cat flu they mean he contracted Herpes as a young kitten which led to eye lesions and blindness.Herpes in cats is not a sexually transmitted disease, rather it affects the respiratory system.It is highly contagious and studies have shown that 90%+ of adult cats have antibodies against the virus, meaning that almost all cats get exposed at some point, some just get sicker than others. It is very likely that these kittens do have Herpes.Very young kittens that get exposed get much sicker because they do not have a strong immune system developed yet to fight the infection, thus we can see severe eye lesions leading to blindness, destruction of nasal turbinates (the fine filtering bone structure in the nose) and chronic sinus problems.The older and healthier a cat is when exposed the better able they are to fight the infection, thus we are less likely to see symptoms.Adult cats that are healthy otherwise when exposed may only have mild cold like symptoms. Rarely we can see eye lesions and skin crusts/ulcers develop.Cats that have immunosuppressive viruses like Feline Leukemia or Feline Immunodeficiency virus can get much sicker and develop pneumonia, and can even succumb to the infection.There are some cats that fight off Herpes, having one episode of illness, and will remain relatively healthy for life with a protective immune response if exposed again, some will have mild symptoms and some have chronic recurring episodes of illness throughout their lives when they are stressed. It depends upon how young they were when exposed and the damage done, and their immune system's ability to fight the infection.What all this means is that Cola probably already has been exposed to Herpes at some point, and if he is healthy otherwise he may never show any symptoms or he may show mild symptoms if exposed again. We do know that stress plays a part though, so if he is stressed by having Sammy around you may not wish to stress him further with fostering more kittens. If he seems happy to have companionship then the kittens may be a welcome addition. If they are showing active symptoms just quarantine them as a precaution until they aren't symptomatic.The most important thing is to make sure all cats are tested negative for Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency virus before they come into your home.Please let me know if you have any further questions.
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