Pet Herpetic Keratoconjunctivitis

Feline herpetic keratoconjunctivitis is a lifelong disease of the conjunctiva and cornea which causes these tissues to be inflamed intermittently in cats and can affect one or both eyes.

What is Herpetic Keratoconjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis is present in the early or mild form of disease and may persist without treatment. Corneal ulceration and blood vessel growth on the cornea often follow the conjunctivitis stage.


What are the clinical signs of Herpetic Keratoconjunctivitis?

Nonspecific signs of pain may be noticed at home, such as squinting, increased tearing, or third eyelid elevation. These signs occur in conjunction with red and/or swollen conjunctiva on the affected eye. A separate conjunctival and corneal condition in cats that can sometimes be associated with FHV-1 is termed Eosinophilic Keratitis. This typically presents as pink/tan plaques on the corneal surface that progress over time and may cause pain and corneal ulcerations. This can be easily diagnosed with corneal cytology.

What causes Herpetic Keratoconjunctivitis?

Feline Herpes Virus-1 (FHV-1) is the underlying cause of this disease in cats. Over 50% of the feline population has FHV-1 present in the cornea. There is no cure for FHV-1; therefore, lifelong intermittent supportive care and antiviral therapy are necessary as flare-ups occur. Flares-ups can occur spontaneously or in response to stress.

What is the treatment for Herpetic Keratoconjunctivitis?

FHV-1 can be a self-limiting disease, but if the above-mentioned clinical signs persist, antiviral therapy is necessary. Additionally, if a corneal ulcer occurs as a result of FHV-1, antibiotic therapy to prevent secondary infection will be necessary.