A 9-yr-old male cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) housed at the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia developed cutaneous lesions consisting of alopecia, erythema, ulceration, and crusting on the left fore and hind limbs. Histopathology of skin biopsies in conjunction with indirect fluorescent antibody and polymerase chain reaction testing confirmed a diagnosis of feline herpesvirus-1 dermatitis; microbial culture indicated secondary bacterial infection. Therapy included targeted systemic antimicrobial and antiviral treatment, topical medications, and repeated cryotherapy. Lesions exhibited varying degrees of clinical improvement but, overall, progressed in extent, size, and severity during the subsequent 2.5 yr of intense treatment. The cheetah was ultimately euthanized due to a guarded prognosis and concerns about poor quality of life. Potential factors initiating or contributing (or both) to the severity and nonhealing nature of the cutaneous lesions include chronic unidentified stress, altered immune system function, and other environmental influences.
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