A chronic ulcerative and eosinophilic dermatitis occurred in 20 captive cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) with persistent feline herpes virus 1 (FHV1) infection. Affected animals had erythematous, ulcerated plaques primarily on the face and forelegs in sites of contact with lachrymal and salivary secretions. The dermatitis was characterized by dense infiltrates of eosinophils and plasma cells and pseudoepitheliomatous hyperplasia. Rare keratinocytes within the lesions had nuclei with marginated chromatin and small eosinophilic inclusions composed of herpes virus nucleocapsids. Virus isolated from lesions was confirmed to be FHV1. Lesions persisted and progressed unless removed by cryoexcision. The occurrence of this unusual reaction to FHV1 in approximately 5% of captive North American cheetahs suggests a species propensity for a Th2-dominant response to herpes virus infection. This atypical immune reaction may indicate a heritable trait or modulation of the immune response by other factors such as chronic stress.
- Acinonyx jubatus
- Feline herpes virus 1
- Pseudoepitheliomatous hyperplasia
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