1. How do I diagnose CHV?
- Clinical signs suggest but do not prove CHV: fading puppies, infertility affecting several bitches, abortions, bleeding under the skin, low birth weight
- Pathology: classic changes include bleeding under the skin, pneumonia, bleeding of kidneys and liver
- Virus isolation: difficult – send to Glasgow within 24 hours (special swab)
- Blood test: two samples 2 weeks apart, the first sample at the day of whelping
- Try the vaccine and see what happens
As a general rule, send the whole pup to the laboratory on ice within a few hours of death
2. If the bitch is already pregnant, is there any point in vaccination?
YES! Even one injection is beneficial, though obviously the later it is given the greater the chance that the placenta has already been damaged by the virus and the unborn puppies affected. In such a situation, the vaccine will not be of benefit. If possible, try and give two injections, even in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
3. What percentage of fading puppy syndrome is due to CHV?
Variable between kennels – may be up to 90%
4. Any relationship between feline herpesvirus and fading kitten syndrome?
Possibly, although in kittens feline panleucopaenia (parvo) virus appears to be the more common infectious agent. An inactivated vaccine called Purevax RC is licensed for use in pregnancy and anecdotally has been of benefit, but cats should only receive a single vaccination in pregnancy.
Fading kitten syndrome is often used to describe neonatal isoerythrolysis which is an entirely different condition.
5. Do only bad kennels have CHV-1?
NO – absolutely not. CHV is highly infectious, and studies have shown that most animals have already been exposed. Although it can be spread at mating, it is much more likely to be spread by simple contact.
The worst thing you can do is to try and avoid kennels that are vaccinating against CHV-1 in case your own animals catch it. These kennels are actually doing what is best practice. The virus does not come from bad kennels – it is already everywhere!
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