Message Number: YG1405 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-03-17 23:23:00 UTC
Subject: Re: CD vaccination information/Vet Question

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., ChaoticFer8s@a... wrote:
> I don't start my kits on their vaccination series until they have
> weaned from their mother, and on the theory that the kits are
> antibodies for protection until fully weaned. Since I keep my kits
> their mother until they are between 12-15 weeks of age, and
frequently see
> the kits continue to nurse until near or at that age before
> weaning, I give vaccinations on a schedule that would be considered

Meg -

I might want to rethink this approach. Ferrets receive ant--CDV
antibodies from their mother in the colostrum - the thick milk that
is pass for the first 24-48 hours. After this, little protective
antibody is passed from the mother to the kits, and even if it was,
the digestive system, which poorly digests protein inthe first few
days for the very reason of absorbing immune globulins, ramps up its
digestive processes and would break any antibodies down, thinking
they were food. The colostral antibodies wear off over time - I can't
tell you how fast, but certainly ferret kits of 12-15 weeks that have
not been vaccinated are lacking significant protection.

> VET Question: I was interested to see a discussion on yearly CD
> here not long ago. I thought I was one of only a few who
personally felt that
> distemper vaccinations might not be needed for older ferrets. I
> vaccinate my personal ferrets after 3 or 4.
>But....are 3 vaccinations really
> necessary if you start the kit later? Ferrets coming into
shelters with no
> vaccination history are always vaccinated and have a 2nd booster 3
> later. That is deemed to protect them even though they might never
have been
> vaccinated before.

In young animals - the first vaccination is generally to initiate the
immune response to an antigen which the ferret has not seen before.
Also, the immun system of young ferrets is not as efficient at
recognizing and presenting antigens, generating anti-CDV clones of T-
and B- lymphocytes, and generating antibody, thus the extra vaccine.

If a ferrret has a mature, functioning immune system, and has
previously been vaccinated for distemper, then it should recognize
the vaccine antigen, and the reaction should proceed at warp speed,
and a third vaccination is generally not necessary. If it has never
seen distemper antigen, then it is a gray area = three vaccines are
better,but with a functional immune system it probably can get by on

Antoher reason that three vaccines are given is that this is
generally what is required to elicit the titers that are protective
against challenge. If the manurfacturer can develop a vaccine that
is protective with only one imjection (such as rabies), then only one
is necessary. Currently, approved distemper vaccine in most species
need three injections to achieve sufficient levels of antibodies to
be protective against challenge on a consistent basis. Can some
individuals get by on two? - Probably. But it is difficult to
identify which ones, and the safest bet is to give the manufacturer's
recommended protocol.

With kindest regards,

Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP
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