Enzyme-Linked Immunoassay to Detect Felis Catus Gammaherpesvirus 1

At a Glance

Researchers at Colorado State University developed two indirect ELISAs to detect whether domestic cats have been exposed to Felis catus gammaherpesvirus 1 (FcaGHV1). The FcaGHV1 antibody detection assays show a higher disease prevalence in the cat population than qPCR assay, because it can detect cats infected with latent FcaGHV1, as well as cats with actively replicating virus. Clinical data from shelter cats indicate that the ELISAs provides an effective FcaGHV1 screening assay with an estimated sensitivity of 74.3% and 97.9% specificity. As previous studies indicate that FcaGHV1 may have a pathogenic role similar to KSHV or EBV, this ELISA should prove to be a useful clinical tool.


Felis catus gammaherpesvirus 1 (FcaGHV1) was recently discovered in the domestic cat and potentially has a worldwide distribution. While only preliminary information has been established relating FcaGHV1 infection to demographic factors, other species of gammaherpes subfamily of Herpesviridae have been studied more in-depth. Most gammaherpesviruses (GHVs) are highly specific to their host species making it especially challenging to learn more about human GHVs.

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpes virus (KSHV) are human GHVs that pose important health risks. Disease of EBV, KSHV and other GHVs appear to be more severe in immunocompromised individuals. For example, KSHV causes primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) in immune suppressed patients. PEL is a serious condition with median survival of 6 months even in patients undergoing currently accepted therapies. Further research on FcaGHV1 will not only benefit cat health but could also provide a model of naturally occurring infection for better understanding of EBV and KSHV infection in humans.

Futhermore, the relationship of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and FcaGHV1 may provide a parallel opportunity to study HIV and human GHVs. Human viruses of the gammaherpesvirus subfamily are difficult to study because of the wide range of proteins that are expressed during lytic and latent phases of viral infection. While FIV is already an established model for HIV due to disease similarities, there is a striking similarity between viral loads in EBV/HIV co-infection and FcaGHV1/FIV co-infection. Using FcaGHV1 in cats to model this relationship could provide a unique, cost-effective opportunity to explore the relationship between HIV and EBV.


  • Sensitive, specific and adaptable for scaling up
  • Can measure cats with and without actively replicating virus


  • Detection of cats exposed to Felis catus gammaherpesvirus 1 (FcaGHV1)
Last Updated: November 2023

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Kathryn R Stutzman-Rodriguez
Sue VandeWoude
Ryan M Troyer

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