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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question

Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 26200
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience.
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My kitten has been diagnosed (through a lab) with FHV-1. He

Customer Question

My kitten has been diagnosed (through a lab) with FHV-1. He has only had 1 set of inoculations and the vet won't give him the 2nd because he is occasionally sneezing blood. His temperature is as it should be. He eats and plays as he should. I have been giving him l lysine with his food for the last 4 days, since we had the results back. The vet is now talking about trying anti viral drugs at £100 but says they won't necessarily have any effect. Should my kitten try them?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin
I'm sorry to hear of this with Picasso. Can you tell me, please, how long Picasso has been symptomatic? In most cases, FHV-1 positive cats experiencing acute episodes of respiratory disease will remiss within 3 weeks - unaided.
The use of l-lysine has become circumspect. In two studies in FHV-1 positive shelter cats, the cats administered l-lysine had increased morbidity (severity of symptoms) than the cats administered placebo. I no longer recommend the use of l-lysine although other experts do. The jury is still out.
Yes, it would be prudent to hold off on the next vaccines. It's best not to vaccinate patients immunocompromised by illness. The systemic antiviral drug famcyclovir has been shown to be of value when administered thrice daily for 21 days. It should be formulated into a tasty suspension by a veterinary formulating pharmacy; hence, it's costly. It's true that not all cats will benefit but in severe and intractable cases, it's certainly worth a try.
Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Picasso has been symptomatic for 7 days. The whole of his litter is believed to have the virus, although 2 of the kittens only sneezed for a day. It started 2 weeks ago with the first sign. His sister was the kitten tested positive as she had blood from her nose, which concerned me which is why I asked for the tests to be carried out. After taking antibiotics for just a day her symptoms were almost non-existent. Picasso was the last to get it and has been in isolation for all 7 days. He is eating well, doesn't sneeze often but when he does there is also bright red blood. The antibiotic my vet is talking about, but she didn't mention the name, is 3/4 of a tablet just once but I would have to buy all 10 as they can't get it in smaller quantities. Would it be prudent to buy it and treat all the kittens? I am a breeder of Maine Coons and this is the first time in 5 years I have had any problem. My vet did suggest I kept the kitten as he may well be an acute carrier and have severe problems for the rest of his life, but this is obviously not an option.

Many help in what deccision to make is appreciated

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
I don't believe that Picasso has been symptomatic long enough to warrant the use of famcyclovir. I believe that the antibiotic is azithromycin. It's not antiviral but is prescribed when resistance to doxycycline and potentiated amoxicillin is seen. Doxycycline is still the initial antibiotic of choice for bacterial upper respiratory infection in cats.
In any event, no, I wouldn't consider it for asymptomatic cats. Yes, FHV-1 is contracted soon after birth by up to 100% of kittens in some populations. Most kittens are infected prior to vaccination against herpesvirus and so protection is incomplete. Most remain carriers for life and can recrudesce (relapse without cure in between events) in times of stress. Because this virus is so ubiquitous in the environment, however, these kittens should still be released to owners once asymptomatic. As an ethical breeder, you should acknowledge what testing has found and reinforce the fact that if all kittens over the world were tested, a very high percentage of them would be FHV-1 positive.
Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for your answers. The new owners are aware that the litter has been tested and the results. It is just knowing if this is likely to be a regular occurance.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
Once FHV-1 has found you, it's going to be an infectious agent of concern for evermore. There's no practical method of decontaminating your environment. The best practice is to make sure that your queens are vaccinated every three years preferably on a schedule in which vaccination occurs just prior to conception but I do understand the logistical difficulty in that regard!
Please continue our conversation if you wish.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

In the UK cats are inoculated every year.

My vet did say if I were a farmer he would expect me to 'cull' all livestock. Not happening.

I will just have to be as careful as is practical.

I did read that if you stress your queen 3 weeks prior to kittening it would increase her antibodies if she had the virus and shed. A stressful situation was classed as the room she would go into to have her kittens.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
No, culling is hardly necessary.
Stress would immunocompromise not immunostimulate and so antibody production would be expected to decrease rather than increase. The end result is what you mentioned, however - increased viral shedding.
Here are the latest global vaccine recommendations. Note that the chairman is from the UK: http://www.vmd.defra.gov.uk/pdf/wsavaguidelines.pdf
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 26200
Experience: University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience.
Dr. Michael Salkin and 2 other Vet Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it.
I'm going to check back with you in a few weeks for an update. Feel free to return to our conversation - even after rating - prior to my contacting you if you wish.
Please disregard the info request.

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