Felis ISSN 2398-2950

Pseudorabies virus

Synonym(s): Aujesky's disease virus, porcine herpesvirus 1

Contributor(s): Susan Dawson, Melissa Kennedy




  • Family: Herpesviridae.
  • Subfamily: Alphavirinae (Alphaherpesvirinae).
  • Genus: Varicellovirus.


  • Same as canine herpesvirus.

Active Forms

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Clinical Effects



  • The principal reservoir is the pig.


  • Replicates primarily in the upper respiratory epithelium including the tonsils; replicates in neural tissue; travels to CNS via neurons.
  • Replication in the cell nucleus - viral capsids (intranuclear inclusion bodies) are formed.


  • Swine shed in respiratory secretions, urogenital tract.
  • Ingestion, inhalation or via pig bites. Rats may take virus from farm to farm.
  • Venereal transmission can occur in pigs.
  • No evidence of dog-to-dog spread or cat-to-cat spread.

Pathological effects

  • IgM antibodies first detectable about the fifth day. IgG measurable by the seventh day and at maximum levels by twelfth to fourteenth day.
  • Virus replicates in the upper respiratory epithelium including the tonsils.
  • Infection may occur in the lower airway; may cause necrotizing tracheitis and pneumonia.
  • Can be found in the brain 24 h after infection, therefore probably spreads via axoplasm.
  • Virus produces a non-suppurative meningoencephalomyelitis with widespread damage to neurons.

In pigs

  • Produces a variable clinical picture.
  • Predominantly a nervous disease in young pigs; mortality 5-100%.
  • Severe nervous disease in adult pigs is rare. Presents vaguely with pyrexia, dullness and incoordination.
  • Respiratory disease may occur in pigs of all ages.
  • Infection in late pregnancy may cause abortion or stillbirth.

In cattle

  • Dominant sign is intense pruritus, resulting in licking, biting and abrasions.
  • Central nervous system (CNS) involvement causes bellowing and frenzy but not aggression.
  • Death occurs from respiratory or cardiac failure.

In dogs

  • Fatal within 48 h.
  • Intense pruritus.
  • Convulsions and cranial nerve palsies may occur.
  • Aggressive behavior occurs rarely.

In cats

  • Sluggishness is followed by excitement; mewing and paralysis of the limbs may occur.
  • Recovery rarely occurs.


Control via animal

  • Avoid feeding pork to dogs in areas where enzootic in pigs.


  • Modified live vaccines available for pigs. (Not in US - Federally regulated).


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Card J P, Enquist L W, Miller A D et al (1997) Differential tropism for sensory neurons in the cat. J Neurovirol (1), 49-61 PubMed.
  • Henderson J P, Graham D A, Stewart D (1995) An outbreak of Aujeszky's disease in sheep in Northern Ireland. Vet Rec 136 (22), 555-557 PubMed.