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Detection of feline herpesvirus 1 DNA in skin biopsy specimens from cats with or without dermatitis

Jessica L. Holland DVM1, Catherine A. Outerbridge DVM, MVSc, DACVIM, DACVD2, Verena K. Affolter Dr med vet, PhD3, and David J. Maggs BVSc, DACVO4
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  • 1 Departments of Surgical and Radiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616. Dr. Holland's present address is County Animal Clinic, 1574 Central Park Ave, Yonkers, NY 10710.
  • | 2 Veterinary Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 3 Departments of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 4 Departments of Surgical and Radiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.

Abstract

Objective—To compare detection rates of feline herpesvirus 1 (FHV-1) DNA in skin biopsy specimens from cats with herpetic dermatitis, cats with nonherpetic dermatitis, and cats without dermatitis.

Design—Prevalence survey.

Animals—5 cats (9 biopsy specimens) with herpetic ulcerative dermatitis, 14 cats (17 biopsy specimens) with nonherpetic ulcerative dermatitis, and 8 cats (21 biopsy specimens) without clinically apparent skin lesions.

Procedures—A single-phase PCR assay was used to detect FHV-1 DNA in biopsy specimens. Assay results were compared with results of histologic examination.

Results—FHV-1 DNA was detected in all 9 biopsy specimens from the 5 cats with herpetic dermatitis and in 1 of 17 biopsy specimens from the 14 cats with nonherpetic dermatitis, but was not detected in any of the 21 biopsy specimens from the 8 cats without dermatitis. When results of histologic examination were used as the gold standard, sensitivity and specificity of the PCR assay were 100% and 95%, respectively.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results confirmed that FHV-1 DNA can be detected in the skin of cats with herpetic dermatitis and suggest that the virus may play a causative role in the disease. In addition, the PCR assay may be useful in confirming a diagnosis of herpetic dermatitis.

Abstract

Objective—To compare detection rates of feline herpesvirus 1 (FHV-1) DNA in skin biopsy specimens from cats with herpetic dermatitis, cats with nonherpetic dermatitis, and cats without dermatitis.

Design—Prevalence survey.

Animals—5 cats (9 biopsy specimens) with herpetic ulcerative dermatitis, 14 cats (17 biopsy specimens) with nonherpetic ulcerative dermatitis, and 8 cats (21 biopsy specimens) without clinically apparent skin lesions.

Procedures—A single-phase PCR assay was used to detect FHV-1 DNA in biopsy specimens. Assay results were compared with results of histologic examination.

Results—FHV-1 DNA was detected in all 9 biopsy specimens from the 5 cats with herpetic dermatitis and in 1 of 17 biopsy specimens from the 14 cats with nonherpetic dermatitis, but was not detected in any of the 21 biopsy specimens from the 8 cats without dermatitis. When results of histologic examination were used as the gold standard, sensitivity and specificity of the PCR assay were 100% and 95%, respectively.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results confirmed that FHV-1 DNA can be detected in the skin of cats with herpetic dermatitis and suggest that the virus may play a causative role in the disease. In addition, the PCR assay may be useful in confirming a diagnosis of herpetic dermatitis.

Contributor Notes

Presented in part at the North American Veterinary Dermatology Forum, Sarasota, Fla, April 2005.

The authors thank Ms. Helen Kado-Fong for technical assistance and Ms. Monique Kratochvil for assistance procuring samples.

Address correspondence to Dr. Maggs.