Canis herpes virus causes systemic, often fatal pup disease. Canine herpesvirus (CHV; species Canid herpesvirus 1) was first described in 1965 as the causative agent of a fatal hemorrhagic disease of puppies. It is classified in the genus Varicellovirus (subfamily Alphaherpesvirinae, family Herpesviridae), along with related viruses such as feline herpesvirus 1 (FHV1), equine herpesvirus 1 (EHV1), pseudorabies virus (PRV) and varicella-zoster virus (VZV). CHV is a DNA virus.
Litter mortality (death) rates are high in CHV. Most adult dogs have clinical signs that are nonspecific, including: coughing and sneezing caused by an upper respiratory infection, miscarriage, and lesions on the external genitalia. Infections affecting the eyes can cause squinting, recurrent ocular (eye) discharge, conjunctivitis, and corneal ulcers.
Canine herpes virus lives in the reproductive and respiratory tracts of male and female dogs. In adults, the disease is transmitted via aerosol and direct contact, including sneezing, coughing, sniffing, licking and sexual activities between an infected and an uninfected dog. Puppies usually contract the disease in the birth canal or from nasal and oral secretions of the mother shortly after birth. Puppies can also spread the virus to one another. Just because one puppy in a litter is infected with CHV does not mean they all are.
CHV does not cause infection in humans. It may remain latent or hidden and quiet in tissues after a dog is infected and may be passed on to other dogs, particularly to fetuses developing in the mother’s uterus. Stress or other illness may cause the recurrence of illness in a dog that has previously been infected. The incubation period in puppies is four to six days, after which clinical signs develop or sudden death occurs.
Detection of canis herpes virus is performed by isolation of DNA from samples and following PCR or real-time PCR (qPCR).
The analysis is carried out from blood, serum, nerves, tissue, and any body fluid.