Feline Upper Respiratory Infections

Feline upper respiratory infections are highly contagious and all cats are at some risk of exposure. The cats most at risk are those that go outside, those in shelters, and those in contact with many other cats. Very young, very old, and immune suppressed cats are also at increased risk.
The two most common infectious agents causing upper respiratory infections in cats are herpes virus and calici virus which together account for about 90% of cases. These viruses can survive 18 hours to 10 days outside of the cat so even cats without direct exposure to an infected cat can be affected. Herpes virus and calici virus are permanent infections and symptoms can recur whenever an infected cat is stressed. Cats infected with calici virus can shed the virus for life.
Symptoms of upper respiratory infections include sneezing, nasal discharge, runny eyes, cough, oral or nasal ulcers, nasal congestion, fever and a hoarse voice. Symptoms usually occur 2 – 10 days after exposure and can last for 7 – 21 days. Although the infections are caused by viruses antibiotics are used to treat the secondary bacterial infections that inevitably occur.
Fortunately vaccines are available for herpes virus, calici virus and Chlamydia. The American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends herpes virus and calici virus vaccinations for most cats with Chlamydia vaccination being optional.
If your cat is not vaccinated or you have any other questions regarding feline upper respiratory infections please call the Golf Glen Veterinary Clinic.

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