Feline Herpesvirus-1 New Treatment

Published July 2009

Treatment of feline herpesvirus-1 associated disease in cats with famciclovir and related drugs.
Malik R, Lessels NS, Webb S, et al.
Journal of Feline Medicine & Surgery. 2009;11(1):40-48.
Faculty of Veterinary Science, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia. R.Malik@vetc.usyd.edu.au


Feline herpesvirus 1 (FHV-1) is a common cause of ocular and upper respiratory disease in cats and kittens, and a potential cause of eosinophilic dermatitis.


The systemic anti-herpes drug, famciclovir (Famvir; Novartis), would be effective in the clinical management of disease attributable to FHV-1, including conjunctivitis, keratitis, corneal sequestra, rhinosinusitis and FHV-1 associated dermatitis.


Oral famciclovir was used to treat signs considered referable to FHV-1 in 10 cats:

  • four had primary ocular disease,
  • two had rhinosinusitis and
  • four had FHV-1 associated dermatitis.

Patients treated in:

  • Australia (five cats) and Europe (one cat) were given 62.5 mg of famciclovir once or twice daily.
  • Four cats treated in the USA were given 125 mg three times daily.

Famciclovir was uniformly well tolerated and, in all cases, had a positive impact on the patient's condition. Critically, oral famciclovir therapy was considered more convenient than topical ocular therapy.

  • The apparent improvement in lesions was superior to what had been achieved previously using other therapeutic strategies.
  • One cat with severe destructive rhinosinusitis was significantly improved by a 4-month course of famciclovir in combination with antibacterials.
  • Corneal sequestra detached in two out of three cats treated; cats with ocular signs were qualitatively more comfortable, with reduced clinical signs and an improved appearance of the eyes.
  • All four cats with FHV-1 associated dermatitis improved substantially, although relapse occurred subsequently in three patients.
  • A further cat with presumptive FHV-1 associated dermatitis responded to topical aciclovir cream before famciclovir could be sourced.


Famciclovir appears to be a promising systemic drug for treating diseases associated with FHV-1 infection. More rigorous clinical trials are required to optimise the dosing regimen for safe and effective specific anti-herpes treatment in feline clinical medicine.

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