Message Number: YG2231 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Carla Christman
Date: 2001-04-05 18:09:00 UTC
Subject: AIHA

to the vets: how many cases of AIHA have you seen?
and how did you
confirm the diagnosis? i would appreciate both a
technical answer if you have some data available (to
share with my vet)
and a translated version for little old me to
:) oh - and have you ever successfully treated this
perhaps i should invite you to mention what exactly
you call of my vets treated a critter for
about 2 months before
the owners took him elsewhere for euthanization - so
no real
data on the actual "outcome" there. understanding to date is that this condition
is exceedingly
rare. could you offer any possible cause for two
ferrets in
the home to be afflicted with this condition within
two weeks of each
other? FYI: we puzzled for weeks over what the
could possibly "have gotten into"...antifreeze,
cleaning agents, rat
poison, mothballs, etc. were ruled out (unless we
missed some
secret ingredient in a typical household cleaner that
could cause such
a thing).

Well, I have not seen a case myself of autoimmune
hemolytic anemia in a ferret and can only think of one
or two cases that I've seen in dogs. I do know of
someone who had a ferret with unexplained anemia that
responded to prednisone and very had no recurrence
after treatment. I don't know how much investigating
was done to determine cause though.

There is no single test to do. Usually, you rule out
any other abnormalities that could cause anemia: renal
disease, parasites, blood loss, nutritional
deficiency, etc. To determine if the cause is truly
autoimmune, I determine that with a few tests that are
available for dogs and cats. Those tests are the
Direct Coombs test and the ANA (antinuclear antibody
test). Another test I would consider would be one for
Rheumatoid factor, esp. if lameness is also present.
The problem with these tests are that they are species
specific and I doubt any lab would have one to run for
ferrets. If the tests can't be run it is back to rule
out everything else and back into a diagnosis. A lot
of time response to therapy such as prednisone or
other immune suppressant medications helps to confirm

What I would be concerned with if two animals in the
same household developed AIHA is an environmental
source. One common toxicant of dogs to cause AHIA is
onions and the onion family (incl. garlic).
Medications have also been blamed such as ivermectin
in dog getting the monthly heartworm meds. Moldy food
may be another source. Hopefully treatment and
finding the cause will help out this matter.

Good Luck,
Carla Christman, DVM

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