Kittens are often exposed early in life and many develop only mild initial symptoms, after which the virus becomes dormant in the nerves on the face, including those within the conjunctiva and cornea. resistant either as a result of this early exposure or after receiving routine vaccinations. A common history is a previous upper respiratory infection with sneezing and watery eyes which may appear to completely resolve.
The symptoms then localize to the eyes with squinting, tearing and possible ulceration of the cornea. One or both eyes may be affected. Herpesvirus is spread by airborn particles and thus highly contagious, although other cats in the same household may show no symptoms because they are already immune.