Message Number: YG2626 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-04-17 06:59:00 UTC
Subject: Re: ECE related questions

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., poof242@a... wrote:
> In Fudge's _Laboratory Medicine: Avian and Exotic Pets_, there is a
> on ferrets. In the section marked Rabbit and Ferret Liver and
> Gastrointestinal Testing subsection Infectious Hepatitis and
Enteritis of
> Ferrets (p 302), it says "Infectious hepatitis and enteritis of
ferrets is
> perhaps the best name for the disease previously described
as "green slime
> disease" or "epizootic catarrhal enteritis."" ..... "No etiologic
agent has
> been identified, although a virus is suspected." If you read on to
> section entitled Ferret Microbiology and Virology subsection
> Catarrhal Enteritis (p 339), it says "Although viral particles
> coronavirus have been seen in necropsy samples from experimentally
> animals and negatively stained preparations of feces, the causative
agent has
> not been isolated." The first section's infromation came from
> contact with Dr. Rosenthall in 1998, the second came from Dr.
Willaims from
> the 8th Small Mammal Conference in 1997. This book was published
in 2000, so
> I am wondering why it does not definitively say that ECE is a
coronavirus? I
> thought it had been isolated?

The definitive article on ECE was not published until AFTER Fudge's
book was published. Dr. Rosenthal's supposition that the coronavirus
causing ECE also infects the liver are incorrect, as no virus or
viral antigen was ever shown to be present in the liver, and
the "hepatitis" that was claimed in the book is simply the result of
anorexia. It will be extremly difficult for subsequent articles and
books on ferret medicine to ignore last August's article.

Technically, this virus has yet to be isolated - it has proven a
difficult virus to grow in the lab. However, the proof of it as the
agent in ECE was based on the caracteristic lesion of a coronavirus
infection in affected animals, visualization of the virus on both
transmission and scanning electron microscopy, and the presence of
coronaviral antigen in the mucosal epithelium as identified by
specific immunohistochemical staining.

> On the subject of ECE, is it normal for a ferret to have icky poops
90% of
> the time? The ferrets got it in August and were over it by late
October. Of
> the ten, eight are doing well (as long as I do not change food or
> treats), but one ferret has bouts now and then of green slime (at
least once
> a week) and another has some sort of diarrhea on almost a daily
basis. This
> particular ferret came to me in August and has since had an
adrenalectomy and
> a nephrectomy; he has seemingly been abused and suffers from some
> damage apparently causing him to be incontinent. I don't know if
this would
> have anything to do with his icky poops, or if it is ECE related?

Abot 20% of ferrets with ECE develop a chronic inflammatory bowel
syndrome as a result of prior infection. In such cases a low dose or
oral prednisone (0.5mg/lb orally) may take the edge off of the
inflammation and improve the stools. I recommend a two week course
to see if there is any effect.
> Kudos to Dr. Williams--saw your painting on JAVMA today!!

Thank you. That is also the first time that a ferret has been on the
cover of that journal.

With kindest regards,

Bruce Williams, DVM, DACVP
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