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Need Advice About Herpes

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
My niece is supposed to be moving in with me for a few months starting in Feb. She lives in Florida and her last day of work was last week and she has given her notice at her apartment. The plan is for her to stay here until she can find a job and get an apartment. She has four cats including one kitten that she recently adopted from a shelter. I did tell her that she could bring the cats as long as they were healthy and up to date on their vaccinations and negative for FeLV and FIV. Anyway, the kitten that she adopted has herpes and it has now spread to her other cats. Of course she didn't know the kitten had herpes when she adopted it or she wouldn't have gotten it.

The problem is that I have 12 cats. The youngest is Scooter who is two yrs. old and he has a liver shunt. Because of this he cannot receive vaccinations. Another cat is 15yrs. old and a few are 12yrs. old and the rest are middle aged. I really don't know anything about herpes. Is it that contagious? I am so upset because I don't know what to do or what she is going to do but I just can't put my cat's health at risk. My cats for the most part are healthy and I can't knowingly put them at risk of catching a chronic illness. Am I being paranoid? As I said I just don't know anything about herpes or even know anyone whose cats have it. My vet is out of town until next week so I can't talk to her until then. I feel so bad because she is all set to move and now I just don't know if I can have her and the cats here. Any input or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!
post #2 of 6
I do not completely understand herpes myself, someone who does will be along shortly. I would suggest searching the forums, of course. There's that wonderful wealth of knowledge out there! I really hope that your neice can still move in with you & that her cats get healthy soon! I do know that there are members here who have herpes cats living with uninfected cats.
post #3 of 6
Okay, I'm by no means an expert but we have four cats.
Two have Feline Herpes and two do not.

From what I understand from the things my Vet had told me, Feline Herpes is contagious, but he said that most cats are exposed to the virus at some point in their lives probably as kittens and they develop an imminity to it....he feels that's the case with Annabelle and Elliott ( those are the two that don't have it ) since even though they've both been exposed to an outbreak neither has ever gotten sick.

Apparently one of the shots they gets as kittens is for herpes, but if they already have the virus it won't get rid of it.
Once they have the virus they have it for life, although they may never have an outbreak they are carries of the virus.

We got Gracie and Lizzie when they were 6 weeks old and they had all of their shots.
I had no clue that they carried the virus until they were 4 years old.
Lizzie started to cough like she was trying to get up a hairball, frankly I thought she did have a hairball, but two days later she started to sneeze, her nose and eyes were running and her left eye was red...just like pink eye in a Human.
So off to the Vet and that's when I found out she had the virus.
The Vet told me at that time Gracie might have the virus also, but there was an equal chance that she didn't..he said she might have developed an immunity.

Gracie was fine until Christmas Eve of 2005, she was fine when we went to bed and when we woke up she had all the symptoms that Lizzie had had two years earlier.
So she also has the virus.
Gracie has never had another outbreak.
Lizzie was also fine until this November.
We brought Elliott into our home and two weeks later Lizzie had an outbreak.
The virus can lay dorment for long periods of time, but an outbreak can occur during times of stress, like moving, death of another animal in the family, or in Lizzie's case bringing another animal into the house.
The funny thing is, when we brought Annabelle in there was no outbreak.
It would seem the Elliott stressed her out more than Annabelle did.

I know I probably didn't really offer much help, just wanted to give you my first hand experiance with the virus and let you know that yes it is contagious, that some cats develop an immunity to the virus but that some don't and apparently there is no way to know if they are immune or not.
If it were me I agree with you and would really be worried about the kitty with the liver shunt since the poor little guy already has a medical problem.

Let your Neice know that she shouldn't be surprised if the kitten has another outbreak due to the stress of moving.

Hopefully you'll be able to get in touch with your Vet and he'll be able to give you better advice than I did.
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks for that information. I am so worried about this. She just emailed me some info she found on it and according to it 70-90% of cats have it. She also said her vet made it out not to be a big deal and he said that most cats have it. I really don't think mine have it because I have never had any problems with them being sick or sneezing etc. One of my kitties did recently have a URI and it cleared right up after a few days on antibiotics. One of her cats has been on meds now for 2 weeks and is still no better. While I don't want any of my babies sick I do especially worry about my kitty with the shunt and my 15yr. old as she has cerebellar hypoplasia. What a dilemma!!
post #5 of 6
You're welcome.
The info she found is basically what my Vet told me.
He said that most cats have at one time in their lives been exposed to the virus.
Some will never ever get sick, but that does not mean that they aren't carries of the virus.
From what I understand from the things he told me, our two cats that have never had an outbreak could very well have the immunity to the virus themselves yet still be carries of the virus.
I hope that makes sense and I hope I"m right, it's been a while since I had all of this explained to me.
From what my Vet said it's not a HUGE deal...as long as the cat is otherwise healthy.. and Gracie and Lizzie will lead normal lives just like a cat without the virus...but we have to watch them because if they get a URI they will get sicker than a cat without the virus.
If they start to sneeze at all, they are put on antiboitiocs and steriods right away.
Okay, again this is what I got out of what he told me...the antibiotics and steriods do nothing for the herpes virus...because they're always going to have it...what it does is fight off any chance that they will develop a URI that could progress into phenomia amd that could kill them, the herpes won't.

An outbreak usually lasts for about 10 to 14 days, but they usually are back to their old selves within a day or two..but they must stay on the medication for 14 days.
So even though they seem fine they still need to take all of the medication.

About your Nieces cat that isn't feeling better after 2 weeks, I think if it were me the cat would be going back to the Vet.
It just doesn't seem right to me that there hasn't been any change in 2 weeks.

I don't blame you for being worried.
I would be too, given the age and health problems of especially those two cats.

When we brought Annabelle in, we had no idea that Gracie and Lizzie had the virus so we didn't think anything of it.
With Elliott we knew and kept him isolated from the girls until he could be checked and to assure us he didn't have any underlying health problems.
Because if he did and he wasn't immuned to the virus we would have had to find him another home.
Because if he already had other health problems and he had an outbreak it would have been worse on him than on an otherwise healthy cat.

Like I said before this is just my experiance and what my Vet has told me.
You're Vet knows your cats best and I would put off letting the other cats into the house until you can talk to him/her.
But, something tells me with the age of and health problems that your cats already have, I think he/she is going to tell you it's to risky.
post #6 of 6
ok, i have 4 cats. as far as i know, only Pixel, my senior, has herpes. her 1st flare-up was after my 3rd cat, Java, came home. the vet said she'd probably had it since kittenhood, but the higher levels of stress brought on the flare-up. she's on l-lysine to prevent flare-ups. since the lysine is not harmful, everyone gets it [it's in their water]. i also have feliway dispensers around the house to lower stress levels.
i've had Pixel & Cable since they were babies, & Java since she was about 3.5 months old. Chip was adopted last spring as an adult. Pixel's 9, Cable & Java are 2 & Chip's about 3-4 years old. only Pixel's ever shown any symptoms.
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