Message Number: YG2472 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Shelley Knudsen
Date: 2001-04-11 09:57:00 UTC
Subject: Neurologic problems??


I have a ferret with progressing neurologic problems that I am
at a loss as to what to do for him. I am a first year
veterinary student at Kansas State University College of
Veterinary Medicine planning on specializing in ferrets, and I
previously ran the Legion of Superferrets of Nebraska Ferret
Shelter for 3 1/2 years, so I am not unfamiliar with most
ferret diseases.

Jake is a 5 1/2 year old male castrated ferret that I adopted
at 1 year of age (he is what inspired me to start a shelter).
In October, he began with rear limb weakness. Since I have an
apartment in Kansas, and a home in Nebraska, I only see my
ferrets every other weekend when I go home to see my husband
and animals. My first thought was insulinoma, but 2 blood
glucose checks and a surgical blood prescreen came back
normal. The rear limb weakness had an acute onset as far as I
know, my husband first noticed it, and it stayed pretty much
the same until March. During that time we did two CBCc, 4
more glucose checks, a fecal, a radiograph, an ultrasound, an
ECG, and a neurologic exam, most of which was done here at
KSU. We also put him on amoxicillin for two weeks, and then
later, pediapred for two weeks, with no results. The exotic
vets here have no idea what is wrong with him. All blood
tests came back normal, ECG was normal, the ultrasound did not
find anything, and the only thing that showed up on radiograph
was a broken rib, but it was not evident how old the break
was. The vet that did the neurologic exam is my neurology
instructor, he said there was a definite possiblity of a
lesion in the thoracic area, but nothing he could say with any
certainty. Jake also had pretty constant tremors, except when
I was holding him, or when he was sleeping. During this
entire time Jake was eating on his own, although he started to
lose weight in December, but when we supplemented his diet
with Ensure twice a day, he gained it back. His stools looked
normal, and none of my other 8 ferrets showed any signs of
being sick. This was all previous to March.

In late March I brought Jake back here to Kansas with me to
try accupuncture. Before we even started the first
accupuncture treatment, he went downhill drastically. When I
brought him here on Sunday night, he was still about the same.
On Monday he started falling over every time he tried to walk
anywhere. He would give a big shake, and fall over. During
the week he got progressively worse, to the point where by the
following Monday, he just drug himself around on his side,
when he did try to move. He also started doing opisthotonos
(arching his neck back completely). He has stopped eating
solid food, but will lap up A/D mixed with water if I hold him
up to it. About two weeks ago he started grinding his teeth
and gagging occasionally, so I put him on Cimetidine (Tagamet)
for a week, and when I saw no results, I started him on ulcer
treatment (Clarithromycin and Amoxicillin) a week ago, which I
have always had good results with for ulcers, but I am not
seeing any yet.

He does have pain and proprioception reflexes in his rear
limbs, although slightly delayed. His perineal region is
almost hyper reflexive, he is extremely sensitive down there.
His front limbs have almost no pain response, and no
proprioception. I have been watching, and I have not seen
that one side is worse than the other - when he was still
walking and falling, he fell to both sides about equally. He
has had 2 accupuncture treatments, with no response. I am
currently feeding him about a can of A/D a day, although he is
not gaining any weight, and is extremely underweight in my
opinion. His stools currently look pretty much what the A/D
looks like going in - brown mushy liquid, and he poops about
2-4 hours after eating. He has never been sick with anything
in his life, other than when I had giardia go through the
shelter a few years ago, and I have no idea when or where he
could have gotten the broken rib.

I am running out of options. I have all of the equipment of a
veterinary medical college at my disposal, but I can't afford
to use them. A myelogram and CSF tap was suggested to me, but
at $300, and I just cannot afford that since I am not working
while in veterinary school, and I have already spent about
$400 on him. Would ADV cause these kinds of symptoms? None
of my other ferrets, who range in age from 4 to 8, show
anything wrong. Are there any other relatively inexpensive
tests that I could do to pinpoint what is wrong with him?
What is the possibility that he will get better on his own,
like in Coon Hound's disease? Without any hope or even a
diagnosis, I am getting to the point of considering
euthanasia, as he has no quality of life right now. I just
wish I knew what was wrong with him, if I could treat it or

If any one has any ideas, please let me know. Keep in mind
that while I do have a pretty extensive background in ferrets,
so I know most of the basics, I am only a first year vet
student, so I still have a lot to learn. One of the exotic
vets down here told me I know just enough to be dangerous ( I
don't think he like me challenging his diagnosis of insulinoma
- even though all of the blood glucose checks were normal).
Also, please e-mail me directly if you have any insights, as I
don't have a lot of time to go though the lists (although they
are being saved for summer reading), although if you want to
carbon copy the lists that is fine.

Thank you,
Shelley Knudsen
Class of 2004 KSU Veterinary College
402-463-0190 785-776-5618

"There ain't no limit in this life to how far you can get,
but if you're going all the way, you gotta break a sweat."
- Chad Brock