Testing of dogs: CHV - Canine Herpes Virus

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Canine herpes virus (CHV)

For PCR testing, samples of blood or tissue from dead individuals are taken or swabs of genital, oropharyngeal or conjunctivae mucosae are taken by cotton swabs (are provided by laboratory). Laboratory provides two swabs for one animal – each swab can be used for sampling of different mucosae. Swabs will be analysed together like a mixed sample. If you like test the swabs separately, we will charge you two analysis – it is necesary to ask for separately testing!

Clinical signs






CHV (Canine herpes virus) is a virus of the sub-family Alphaherpesvirinae, which includes the species Simplexvirus, Varicellovirus, Mardivirus and Iltovirus. The human herpetic infections are caused by herpes simplex viruses (HSV-1 and 2); HHV-3 (Varicella zoster virus) is obviously the most known representative of the species Varicellovirus that causes pocks and herpes zoster.
The hosts of the sub-family Alphaherpesvirinae are not only humans, but also cattle, cats, dogs, pigs and birds.
The genome of the entire sub-species and of the CHIV is formed by non-segmented linear double-stranded DNA, i.e. so-called dsDNA viruses. The structure of CHV is similar to other representatives of the sub-species and relates genetically to FHV-1 (Feline herpes virus-1), PhHV-1 (phocid herpesvirem 1) and equine herpes viruses 1 and 4 (Martina et al. 2003, Rota et al. 1990).
In 1965, canine herpes virus was identified coincidently by three different groups of scientists in connection with the infectious death in newborn puppies (Carmichael et al. 1965, Spertzel et al. 1965, Stewart et al. 1965). Clinically, CHV may cause different types of diseases and infections, such as acute neonatal viremia, systematic forms of infections in pregnant female dogs, infection of mucous membranes, eyes infections and latent infections. The course of the disease depends on the current status of the immune system of the given animal. In newborn puppies, CHV infection causes fatal necrotic and hemorrhagic disease, while in older and adult dogs, the clinical signs are absent (Carmichael et al. 1965).

Clinical signs
In adult animals, CHV causes disease of upper respiratory tract and genital tract. The presence of CHV was found in dogs with ITB (Binn et al. 1979) (ITB - infectious tracheobronchitis - an acute highly infectious disease, when the animal is infected by some bacteria and viruses at the same time).The role of CHV in relation to ITB is controversial. Experimentally created CHV-infections show that CHV causes mild signs (running nose), pharyngitis (Appel et al. 1969) or lead to ITB-related diseases (Karpas et al. 1968). CHV occurs later than other viral infections of the respiratory tract. It is interesting that subsequently the CHV-infection was connected with more serious signs (Erles et al. 2004). It is still not clear whether the presence of CHV is responsible for worsening of the signs of the respiratory infections or vice versa.
CHV-infection can be accompanied with clinical signs such as vesicular lesions on the genital mucosa. In females, CHV causes inflammation of vagina. The virus is also transferred transplacentally (Hashimoto at al. 1982), and the infection may result in, for example, necrosis in fetuses, fetus resorption, aborts, premature birth, delivery of weak nonviable pups.
In some animals, opththalmia with retinal dysplasia (Eye inflammation) may occur in connection with CHV infection, in serious cases, for example, keratitis, corneal ulceration, cataract and adhesion in anterior aqueous chamber.

Serological examination show relatively high prevalence of CHV in breeds. The prevalence of antibodies has been determined to be 88% in England, 45.8 % in Belgium, 39.3% in the Netherlands and 27.9% in Italy (Reading et al. 1999, Rijsewijk 1998, Ronsse 2002, Sagazio et al. 1999). In multi-animal environment, the risk of infection is provably higher (e.g. shelters, large breeding stations). The range of CHV-hosts is limited to dogs and the virus replicates almost exclusively in canine cells (Krakowka et al. 1985). However, the presence of CHV-antibodies was also found in red fox (Robinson et al. 2005, Truyen et al. 1998) and North-American river otter (Kimber et al. 2000).

After symptomatic and asymptomatic infection, the virus remains latent in dogs. The virus can be shed in unforeseen intervals during periods lasting several months or years. Oronasal and genital transmission are considered the main ways of infection transmission, but the transmission from mother to the baby in the uterus is also possible.
The latent virus remains in trigenimal ganglia, but has been found even in other locations, such as lumbosacral ganglia, tonsilla or parotid glands (Burr et al. 1996, Miyoshi 1999). By PCR reaction, the virus was detected in none of the total 24 samples of blood at the presence of latent infection (Burr et al. 1996)
The latent virus can be reactivated by stress (e.g. move to a new owner, new household, new dog in the household) or even by administration of immunosuppressive drugs (corticoids).

At present, there is no specific treatment of CHV infection. There is only available symptomatic treatment or possible prevention focused on improvement of the immune system of the individual.

CHV is very sensitive to routinely used disinfectants. The virus replication is reduced at a temperature above 36˚C. Therefore, breeding of puppies with generally inefficient temperature regulation in heated boxes may reduce their mortality. Definitely, in newborn puppies, the disease proceeds very quickly and unfortunately no efficient treatment is available.
At present, vaccination is possible that is intended for pregnant females. The vaccine for pregnant females contains a small amount of antigens of canine herpesvirus. It means that the pregnant females are actively immunized and so passive protection of puppies is induced. Upon vaccination, the puppies receive the antibodies from their mother by means of colostrums. The vaccination does not provide direct protection against infection, but suppresses the development of clinical signs or pathological changes due to CHV infection.

To determine the diagnosis, anatomical pathological changes and histological findings in case of death can be evaluated. If an animal suffered from the infection, it is possible to determine the presence of antibodies; with regard to the latency ability, the titre of antibodies reduces very quickly and the evaluation is not exact.
PCR method is clearly the only method that may help to determine the presence of CHV. The detection method by polymerase chain reaction is a quick, precise and reliable method that can be used for the detection of virus in the tissue samples, tissue slices of dead newborn pups, and in genital or tonsillar swabs or in a sample of 1 ml whole blood in EDTA in case of viremia phase of disease.


Carmichael  L.E. et al.: Identification of a cytopathogenic agent infectious for puppies as a canine herpesvirus. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1965 Dec;120(3):644-50.
Carmichael L.E. et al.:Clinical and pathologic features of a fatal
viral disease of newborn pups, Am. J. Vet.Res. (1965) 26:803-814.
Spertzel RO et al.: Recovery and characterization of a herpes-like virus from dog kidney cell cultures. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1965 Dec;120(3):651-5.
Stewart SE et al.: Herpes-like virus isolated from neonatal and fetal dogs. Science. 1965 Jun 4;148:1341-3.
Reading M.J.et al.: Detection of high levels of canine herpes virus-1 neutralising
antibody in kennel dogs using a novel serum neutralisation test, Res. Vet. Sci. (1999) 66:273-275.

Rijsewijk F.A. et al: Prevalence of antibodies against canine herpesvirus 1 in dogs in The Netherlands in1997-1998, Vet. Microbiol. (1999) 65:1-7.

Ronsse V et al.: Seroprevalence of canine herpesvirus-1 in the Belgian dog population in 2000, Reprod. Domest. Anim. (2002) 37:299-304.

Sagazio P. et al.: Infezione da herpesvirus del cane: diffusione sierologica in Puglia, Obiettivi e Documenti Veterinari (1998) 5:63-67.

Krakowka S. et al: Comparative pathobiology of viral disease, CRC Press, Boca Raton, 1985, pp.137-144.

Robinson A.J. et al.:Prevalenceof serum antibodies to canine adenovirus and canine herpesvirus in the European red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in Australia, Aust. Vet. J. (2005) 83:356-361.

Truyen U. et al.: Survey on viral pathogens in wild red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in Germany with emphasis on parvoviruses and analysis of a DNA sequence from a red fox parvovirus, Epidemiol. Infect. (1998) 121:433-440.

Kimber K.R. et al.: Serologic survey of selected viral agents in recently captured wild North American river otters (Lontra canadensis), J. Zoo Wildl. Med. (2000) 31:168-175.

Hashimoto A. et al.: Experimental transplacental infection of pregnant dogs with canine herpesvirus, Am. J. Vet. Res. (1982) 43:844- 850.
Binn L.N. et al.: Studies of respiratory disease in random-source laboratory dogs: viral infections in unconditioned dogs, Lab. Anim. Sci. (1979) 29:48-52.
Appel M.J. et al.: Pathogenesis of canine herpesvirus in specific-pathogen-free dogs: 5- to 12-week-old pups, Am. J. Vet. Res. (1969) 30:2067-2073.
Karpas A. et al.: Canine tracheobronchitis; Isolation and characterization of the agent with experimental reproduction of the disease,Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. (1968) 127:45-52.
Erles K. et al.: Longitudinal study of viruses associated with canine infectious respiratory disease, J. Clin. Microbiol. (2004) 42:4524-4529.
Burr P.D. et al.: Detection of canine herpesvirus 1 in a wide range of tissues using the polymerase chain reaction, Vet. Microbiol. (1996) 53:227-237.
Miyoshi M. et al.: Detection of canine herpesvirus DNA in the ganglionic neurons and thelymph node lymphocytes of latently infected dogs, J. Vet. Med. Sci. (1999)
Rota P.A. et al.: Homology between feline herpesvirus-1 and canine herpesvirus,
Arch. Virol. (1990) 115:139-145.
Martina B.E. et al.:Genetic characterization of the unique short segment of phocid herpesvirus type 1 reveals close relationships among alphaherpesviruses of hosts of the order Carnivora, J. Gen. Virol. (2003) 84:1427-1430.

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Usual turnaround time: 5 business days
1 test price: 34.00 $ without VAT