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Signs herpes outbreak is coming

A:If the eyes are the “windows to the soul”, then it’s of the utmost importance to keep our cats eyes open and clear!
Although feline herpes and human herpes are different (and not transferable between cats and humans), they work similarly: once they are in the body, they stay there, usually dormant, with occasional flare-ups brought on by some sort of stress.
Herpes and calicivirus are generally spread through contact with an infected cat’s secretions.
Ringworm is a fungal infection that can cause inflammation and irritation of the eyelids, which can secondarily lead to conjunctivitis and eye discharge. While not a common cause of eye infections, allergies can cause conjunctivitis in cats, which is not contagious.
As you can see, there are many things that can cause an “eye infection.” Some are potentially contagious to other cats, while some can be indicators of a more involved problem. And, when treating the eyes, always make sure your cat’s favorite Johnny Nash song, is playing in the background so he’ll keep his eye on the bigger picture. We have 2 other cats and we have been diligent in washing hands and monitoring them to ensure they don’t get herpes from Nellie. But let’s focus on one of the more common disorders: conjunctivitis – where the eyes become red, inflamed, and ooze a yucky discharge. Unchecked, the herpesvirus can lead to infections of the cornea, iris, and retina, and can result in blindness, which the poor Siamese kitty can attest to. None of these are contagious – although I did once see 3 cats in the same house that had scratches on the corneas at the same time – from the same encounter with a new puppy! The good news is that there are very effective vaccinations available to prevent feline herpes, calicivirus and feline leukemia.


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When we took Jo-Jo in for her kitten shots, the vet checked her out and she feels that our other 2 cats will not be in any danger. I wish it had mentioned something about a cat that has one eye that has a clear discharge on occasion.
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There are medications that can help bring acute flare-ups under control, and some long term medications that may help reduce the number of flare-ups, which your vet can advise you on. YOU can also spread it to your cat if you’ve had contact with an infected cat and bring it home! However, the bacteria Bordetella and Chlamydophila can cause primary infections, and are potentially contagious to other cats. BUT (and it’s a big BUT), steroids must be used with absolute caution in cats with conjunctivitis. There are also some new, very effective diagnostic tests and treatments available for some stubborn eye problems in cats, which you can speak with your vet about. One of our dear cat blogger friends Nellie, recently had a sudden flare-up of herpes and lost vision in one eye.
So, ALWAYS wash your hands, disinfect your shoes, and change your clothes if you’ve had contact with a sick cat before going home. Since viral infections are MUCH more likely to cause conjunctivitis in cats, steroids can potentially make those infections worse.


Nellie also has allergies, so when this years problems started, we thought it was just allergies. Once the graft had taken he separated it from the rest of the third eyelid and she retained peripheral vision in that eye. It may last a few days or a couple weeks and then go away just to pop up again at a later date. Our Gris Gris and Domino have occasional herpes flare-ups and Odin lost an eye to an eye infection. In addition, the “big 3” viruses in cats: feline leukemia, feline immunodeficiency virus, and feline infectious peritonitis (coronavirus), are all potential contributors to eye infections, and are potentially contagious to other cats.
You can use a soft, moist wash cloth to gently keep the eyes clear, keeping in mind that, while some cats will appreciate that, some cats will resent it. The vet told us this was a serious flareup and we were diligent with the medications and the flushing of her eye, and were in constant contact with the vet, but alas the infection has robbed Nellie of the sight in that eye. She still has a little discharge from both eyes and we continue with the polysporin and the eye flushing for both eyes. All we can do is try to prevent any ulcerations that would necessitate the removal of her eye.



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