The infection caused by canine herpesvirus, is usually fatal in puppies. Hence it is often called sudden death syndrome or fading. This infection, when it occurs in adult dogs, appears as an upper respiratory infection. It may have symptoms like vaginal inflammation accompanied by pain and a discharge of pus in female dogs and inflamed foreskin in males.
Canine herpesvirus has a worldwide distribution. The infection is transmitted to the puppies when they come in contact with their mother’s vaginal, nasal or oral secretions. They may even get infected before birth. Nasal and oral secretions of other infected dogs also can transmit the virus to the puppies within 3 weeks of their birth.
Infected puppies usually die in the first three weeks following an illness that lasts not even 24 hours. It can sometimes occur in puppies one month or older. If the infection occurs while the puppy is inside the mother’s womb, it may result in abortion, or the puppy may be stillborn.
There are no vaccines against canine herpesvirus. Some puppies may survive the infection, but they have a poor outlook because of the high risk of damage to vital organs like the liver, kidneys and brain. After the first litter of infected puppies, the mother starts developing antibodies in her blood, and once these antibodies get expressed in the colostrum produced for the subsequent litters, they may survive. But they may be carrying the virus while not displaying any symptoms of the infection.