Canine herpes virus (CHV-1) is a virus that
has been largely forgotten for many years, due in part to the
difficulty in making a definitive diagnosis.
However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the virus causes many more problems than was first thought.
Like all herpes viruses, CHV is highly
infectious, and a recent study showed that more than 80% of the dogs
tested had been exposed to the virus at some time in their lives. Other
studies have shown infection rates of 40-100% in kennels around Europe.
In kennels not previously exposed to the
virus, CHV can cause massive losses, sometimes of entire litters. Death
occurs in the first few days and weeks of life, with the classic
pathological changes described in Diagnosis.
Once the virus becomes established in
kennels, periods of high mortality are interspersed with a general fall
in the average birth weight of the litter, and increased pre-weaning
In kennels with long-established disease
the breeder may well have become accustomed to the poor results, and the
existence of a problem only becomes apparent once a vaccination
programme is put in place.