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Abstract

Objective

To use a nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to detect feline herpesvirus (FHV-1) DNA in conjunctiva or cornea from clinically normal cats and cats with conjunctivitis or corneal sequestra.

Samples

Conjunctival snip biopsy specimens from 50 cats with conjunctivitis and 50 clinically normal cats; 28 keratectomy specimens from 26 cats with sequestra, and 13 specimens from clinically normal cats.

Procedure

Tissue specimens were digested, and FHV-1 DNA was amplified, using a double round of PCR. Products were visualized by use of agarose gel electrophoresis.

Results

Polymerase chain reaction was positive in 27 of 50 (54%) conjunctival specimens from cats with conjunctivitis and 6 of 50 (12%) specimens from clinically normal cats. Difference in the results between cats with conjunctivitis and clinically normal cats was statistically significant. Polymerase chain reaction was positive in 5 of 28 (18%) corneal specimens from cats with sequestra and 6 of 13 (46%) clinically normal cats. Distribution of positive results between clinically normal cats and those with sequestra was not significant.

Conclusion

Cats with conjunctivitis were more likely to have a positive PCR result than were clinically normal cats, making it likely that FHV-1 was associated with the disease state. Herpesvirus DNA could not be detected in most corneas from cats with sequestra.

Clinical Relevance

Polymerase chain reaction is a useful clinical test for identifying FHV-1 DNA in cats with conjunctivitis, yielding greater sensitivity over that of currently available tests. Herpesvirus may be less of a cause of corneal sequestration in the commonly affected breeds, Himalayan and Persian, than other factors, such as lagophthalmos or corneal metabolic defects. (Am J Vet Res 1997;58:338–342)

Free access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research