The question in the title is online and appears to be asking for the percentage of cats that are suffering from or have suffered from the herpesvirus group. It causes feline viral rhinotracheitis – FVR.
One study states ‘33% of the cats with respiratory tract disease were FCV positive’ 2. Another states: ‘Following exposure to FHV-1, more than 80% of cats become persistently infected’.3. A further study in Brazil states: ‘FHV-1 alone was isolated from 38.2% (21/55) of the animals that tested positively’.4. Another study states: In clinically normal cats, prevalence rates of FCV and FHV were about 50.00%… [FHV is the herpes virus] 5.
The leading article (at the date of this article) as far as Google’s algorithm is concerned (gazettetimes.com) states that 80-90% of cats are estimated to have herpes virus-1 (FHV-1). That is saying that up to nine out of ten domestic cats carry the herpes virus. It sounds shocking. It may be true because the acute infection stage is followed by a ‘lifelong persistence of the viral genome latent form in nervous and lymphoid tissues’. This is described as the chronic carrier state. In plain language the germ remains dormant inside the cat and is woken up under certain circumstances.
“Almost all the cats who have been infected with FVR will become chronic carriers. FVR lives and multiplies in the cells and lining of the throat.” 1
The virus can be reactivated during times of stress, illness, surgery etc. when the cat might show signs of mild URI. Vaccinations do not eliminate the carrier state.
So if 90% of cats have herpes it is would appear that it is dormant in the majority of these cats. I don’t know the percentage.
Petmd.com states that some studies have shown positive blood titers for herpes at over 90% in shelter cats. A blood titer shows the level of antibodies in the blood in this case for the herpes virus. Antibodies are part of the immune system and indicate the presence or past presence of a pathogen in this case the herpes virus. It confirms that the cat at one stage or currently was exposed to the herpes virus.
Shelter cats are particularly likely to become infected as they are living in close quarters and the virus is highly contagious.
There is no doubt that the herpesvirus group is very prevalent. It is one of two major viral groups (the other being the calicivirus group) that is responsible for 80-90% of all URIs.
Also the most common cause of conjunctivitis in cats (pink eye) is the herpesvirus (FHV-1).
The answer to the question in the title is possibly 80-90% of cats. Shelter cats and feral cats in colonies are more vulnerable to this infectious disease. I say ‘possibly’ because I have not read the actual studies supporting this figure despite searching for them. Other studies seem to arrive at lower figures of around 33-50%. This is still a high percentage.
Note: 1 — Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook 3rd edition.
Note: 2 – A Study of Feline Upper Respiratory Tract Disease with Reference to Prevalence and Risk Factors for Infection with Feline Calicivirus and Feline Herpesvirus [link]
Note: 3 — Feline herpesvirus-1: Ocular manifestations, diagnosis and treatment options
Note: 4 — Isolation and identification of feline calicivirus and feline herpesvirus in Southern Brazil
Note: 5 — Molecular and clinical study on prevalence of feline herpesvirus type 1 and calicivirus in correlation with feline leukemia and immunodeficiency viruses
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