Message Number: YG1791 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Diane Burman
Date: 2001-03-27 18:56:00 UTC
Subject: [Ferret-Health-list] Meg - choangelohepatitis?

I've already written about Cody & Mo. Meg is my third sick
ferret and at the moment the most critically ill. She is a
Marshall Farm's ferret about 5yo. I rescued her from horrible
neglect 2 years ago. At that time she weighed under 1lb and
was fed only generic cat food when she was fed at all. Her
healthy weight is closer to 2lb. For the 2 years I have had
her she has been the picture of health & hyper-activity except
for a brief virus a year ago.

This past Friday I noticed she was very lethargic & seemed to
have dropped a bit of weight. I isolated her & noticed that
over the course of the day she didn't eat or defecate. When
she drank she would sometimes gag. I thought she might have a
virus similar to last year (which included sores in her mouth)
or a hairball or insulinoma. I began feedings of mush followed
by cat lax. She picked at her kibble briefly Saturday. By
Sunday she was defecating and all along everything I fed her
was staying down. There was no gagging when I fed her. Monday
morning I noticed that she had eaten a fair amount of kibble
during the night & made 2 very normal looking "deposits" in
the litter box. Thinking she was taking a turn for the better
I decided not to bring her to the vet that day (Monday). I
continued with the mush & cat lax. By Monday night I had
observed that she had not eaten anything voluntarily so off to
the vet she went this morning.

Her glucose screen came back at 36 so I thought it was
insulinoma but then a CBC & chem screen was run. That time her
glucose was 62 which probably isn't terrible for a ferret that
has been anorexic and hadn't been fed for 3 hours. What
concerned the vet was that her blood serum was very yellow &
her total bilirubin was 12.9. Apparently that should be less
than 1. He also thought her skin looked a bit yellow (though I
sure couldn't tell) when he shaved her. My vet then did x-rays
and an abdominal ultrasound. The ultrasound showed that she
has a blocked bile duct causing bile to back up in her liver.
I have a print out of the image but I'm not sure how well it
will scan. He saw no evidence of gall stones causing the
blockage. He did some liver biopsies and also removed some
bile for culture. The way I understand it, this probably is 1
of two things...either a bacterial infection or cancer.

I guess I'm not really sure what I'm looking for except to
hear if anyone else is familiar with this problem in ferrets
and what I might expect. I'd also like some input on how best
to treat her. I realize that treatment for a bacterial
infection will be somewhat different from cancer treatment (if
there even can be treatment). Hopefully the biopsy & culture
reports will be back in 5 business days (Tuesday?). Here's
what has been prescribed at this point:
20cc sub-cu fluids 3-4x/day
1/4 of a 5mg tablet pred 2x/day (for inflammation I believe)
Pepcid A/C 2x/day
Clavamox and metronidazole 0.15ml 2x/day
Pet Tinic 0.2cc 2x/day (for the B vitamins)
aluminum hydroxide (I bought AlternaGel) 1cc 3x/day

She is to return to the vet's for a re-check on Friday. How
likely is this to be bacterial vs. cancer? If it's bacterial,
what is the possibility that Mo's lung problem is also
bacterial and that they are both related?

One last question...the syringe I was given to administer the
sub-cus only holds 12cc. I'm really reluctant to stick her
twice 3 or 4 times a day. She's so unhappy right now with all
the yucky tasting things being forced down her throat. I don't
want to stress her unnecessarily. So, instead of giving her
20cc (and therefore sticking her twice) 3-4 times a day, would
it be all right to give her 12cc four or five times a day?

The mush that I make is 1 can A/D and 1 can IAMS kitten. I
then add hot water to make it the consistency of the
particular ferret's liking and sprinkle in some Prozyme before
"serving". I've been making this for Cody for quite a while.
He is *very* picky about his mush & this is the only way he
will eat it. Any variation & he refuses it. So...since that is
what I keep made up for Cody, that is what I have been feeding
Meg. I hope that this is acceptable. My vet said that high
protein can possibly cause a problem (a build-up on ammonia in
the brain if I understood correctly) but that at this point it
is better that she eat. He said there is a medication he can
prescribe if she begins to show "brain symptoms". I am going
out shortly to buy some of the Gerber's Stage 2 that has been
recommended on this list so many times. I've never tried that
and am hoping that she will take to it.

Thank you one and all for your help and advice,
Diane & the gang