From: Alison Skipper
Date: 2001-03-13 15:57:00 UTC
Subject: advice from USA vets please
This is a request for advice from colleagues in the US. As most of you
will know, we hardly ever see adrenal disease in ferrets in the UK, and
so even those of us who are interested in ferrets have no practical
experience of it. My colleague has seen (as a referral) a spayed female
ferret, aged about 4, which has been imported from the US. This ferret
was referred because of a mass in her neck, which the referring vet (who
is a very good vet generally) biopsied: she was confident that the mass
was a lymph node, but the histology report described it as adipose
Apparently the ferret is polydipsic and polyuric, and lethargic. She
has a mildly enlarged vulva and marked bilaterally symmetrical
alopecia. My colleague felt that her abdomen felt "wrong" - too many
enlarged things - but without experience of neoplastic ferret abdomens
he wasn't certain what he was feeling.
He took blood. Since we use SI units, I won't quote the figures one by
one, but the haematology was normal except for a low lymphocyte count;
in the biochemistry, glucose was not checked (I don't know why - maybe
it clotted in the tube), urea was a little low, creatinine, albumin,
globulins, ALT, ALP, potassium, calcium, CK, LDH and triglycerides were
all normal, GGT was high. The lab does a lot of exotics work.
We are fairly sure that the ferret must have adrenal disease; the
question is what we do about it, and what else she may have. I have met
neither ferret nor owner. The owner must love the ferret as she will
have paid upwards of $2000 to import her to the UK, having gone through
quarantine, but is now reluctant to undergo any further intervention (eg
radiography/ultrasound/further biopsy) or treatment. We are reluctant
to carry out an adrenalectomy when neither of us has seen or done one
before, the owner doesn't want us to anyway, and there are perhaps other
concomitant problems. I haven't yet established if we can get Lupron in
the UK. Rumour has it that ferret steroid hormone panels can be
obtained, but I get the impression that some US vets think they don't
add all that much to the diagnosis.
We would be very grateful for suggestions as to how we should handle
this one. How confident can we be of the diagnosis on the evidence so
far, and what sort of prognosis can we suggest if treatment is
impractical or refused?
Thanks for any help,
Alison Skipper MRCVS, England.