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Canine herpesvirus





  • Family: Herpesviridae.
  • Subfamily: Alpha herpesvirinae and Gamma herpesvirinae.
  • Genus: Varicellovirus.


  • Gk: herpein - creeping; refers to the creeping cold sore eruptions due to the herpes simplex virus in humans.

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Clinical Effects



  • The only known reservoir is the dog, with the possible exception of coyotes in the United States.


  • Multiplies in the respiratory and female genital tracts of adult dogs.
  • In puppies >3 weeks old, primary replication occurs in the oropharyngeal epithelium and regional lymph nodes → viremia → localization in reticuloendothelial cells.
  • Replication is enhanced if puppies become chilled.
  • In puppies <3 weeks old, systemic infection with virus replication in many tissues occurs.


  • Venereal.
  • In utero or via birth canal.
  • Saliva, nasal secretions, urine - may be spread via aerosol.
  • Can become latent and reactivation may follow stress or immunosuppression.

Pathological effects

  • CHV-1 infects circulating white blood cells, resulting in a leukopenia.
  • Complement-fixing and virus-neutralizing antibodies develop.
  • See also canine herpesvirus infection Canine herpesvirus disease.
  • Puppy: 'fading puppy syndrome' in neonates <3weeks old; characteristic focal renal hemorrhages occur; also ecchymoses in other abdominal organs.
  • Bitches: vesicular vaginitis Vaginitis , occasional stillbirths or abortion Abortion / stillbirth.
  • Young adults: mild rhinitis Rhinitis.

Other Host Effects

  • Latent infections may result in carrier status.
  • Subclinical infections are probably common.


Control via animal

  • Antibiotics to control secondary bacterial infection in respiratory disease - not usually a cause of significant respiratory disease; may be a component of kennel cough, which is treated with antibiotics (directed toward Bordetella bronchiseptica).
  • Minimize stress.
  • Insure ambient temperature of pups maintains body temperature of >37°C.

Control via chemotherapies

  • No specific treatment is available.
  • Hyperimmune globulin may be of use, but is difficult to obtain because the virus is poorly immunogenic.

Control via environment

  • Infected animals should be removed or separated from the breeding population, and the premises disinfected.
  • Isolate pregnant bitches during last 3 weeks of gestation, pups in first 3 weeks of life ('critical period').


  • Inactivated vaccine Vaccination protocols available in Europe for bitch.
  • Vaccination must be repeated at each pregnancy but can be given to bitches already infected with the virus.
    Does not interfere with PCR or virus isolation tests.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Schulze C & Baumgärtner W (1998) Nested polymerase chain reaction and in situ hybridization for the diagnosis of canine herpesvirus infection in puppies. Vet Pathol 35 (3), 209-217 PubMed.
  • Smith K C (1997) Herpesviral abortion in domestic animals. Vet J 153 (3), 253-268 PubMed.
  • Burr P D, Campbell M E, Nicolson L et al (1996) Detection of canine herpesvirus in a wide range of tissues using the polymerase chain reaction. Vet Microbiol 53 (3-4), 227-237 PubMed.
  • Okuda Y, Ishida K, Hashimoto A et al (1993) Virus reactivation in bitches with a medical history of herpesvirus infection. Am J Vet Res 54 (4), 551-554 PubMed.
  • Anvik J O (1991) Clinical considerations of canine herpesvirus infection. Vet Med 86 (4), 394-403 VetMedResource.

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