Objective - To detect feline herpesvirus type 1 (FHV-1) in blood of cats undergoing experimental primary herpetic disease or with spontaneous disease presumed to be caused by FHV-1 reactivation. Animals - 6 young specific-pathogen-free (SPF) cats and 34 adult cats from a shelter. Procedures - Conjunctiva and nares of SPF cats were inoculated with FHV-1, and cats were monitored for 21 days. Periodically, blood was collected for CBC, serum biochemical analyses, and detection of FHV-1 DNA via PCR assay. For shelter cats, a conjunctival swab specimen was collected for FHV-1 PCR assay, and blood mononuclear cells were tested via virus isolation (with or without hydrocortisone) and FHV-1 PCR assay. Results - All SPF cats developed clinical and clinicopathologic evidence of upper respiratory tract and ocular disease only. Via PCR assay, FHV-1 DNA was detected in blood of all SPF cats at least once between 2 and 15 days after inoculation. Feline herpesvirus type 1 DNA was detected in conjunctival swabs of 27 shelter cats; 25 had clinical signs of herpetic infection. However, virus was not isolated from mononuclear cell samples of any shelter cat regardless of passage number or whether hydrocortisone was present in the culture medium; FHV-1 DNA was not detected in any mononuclear cell sample collected from shelter cats. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance - A brief period of viremia occurred in cats undergoing primary herpetic disease but not in cats undergoing presumed recrudescent herpetic disease. Viremia may be important in the pathogenesis of primary herpetic disease but seems unlikely to be associated with recrudescent disease.
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