Canine herpesvirus 1 (CaHV-1) is known to cause reproductive disorders in adult dogs and neonatal mortality in puppies. Seroprevalence for CaHV-1 has been investigated worldwide, but specific epidemiological studies have not been documented in Italy. Serum samples from 865 dogs were screened for CaHV-1 using a sero-neutralization assay (SN). The CaHV-1 positive sera and 100 CaHV-1 negative sera were also tested using an in-house Immunofluorescence (IF) test. Thirteen bitches with reproductive disorders and 3 bitches with no history of reproductive diseases were examined clinically in order to identify CaHV-1 associated lesions and CaHV-1 DNA in vaginal swabs by PCR. An overall seroprevalence of 14.6% was observed in SN, and of 18.6% in IF. The correlation between SN test and IF was moderate and the SN assay demonstrated a greater sensitivity, with a few exceptions. None of the vaginal swabs tested positive for CaHV-1 DNA. The differences in the sero-positive rates between SN and IF were not statistically significant (P = 0.16) by the chi-squared test. Using the SN test as the reference standard, the sensitivity and specificity of IF were 29% and 95%, respectively. These results suggest that CaHV-1 is common in canine population and may pose a threat to neonatal survival and canine fertility in breeding kennels in Italy. Vaccination of breeding bitches should be recommended if there is a history of reproductive disorders.
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