Message Number: YG2691 | New FHL Archives Search
Date: 2001-04-18 13:42:00 UTC
Subject: Need help with dx PLS! Possible distemper (long).

Dear Dr. Williams and all other vets on board,

I and my vet in California are in need or your assistance in helping
diagnosis my 5 y/o MF ferret Snickers.

I found Snickers on Monday morning passed out at the bottom of her
cage laying in feces and urine. Apparently she was too weak to move
after relieving herself. I had not fed her the normal liquid kitten
replacement formula for 2 days. She had been on this formula 2x a
day for the past 5 months. I was trying to wean her from it and I
thought she was eating sufficient kibble and water on her own. After
finding her, I immediately fed her duck soup and the formula and she
rallied rather quickly. Then on Monday afternoon I took her to the
vets and this is the situation now.

Currently Snickers is at the clinic in a nebulizer for bacterial
pneumonia with an underlying unknown problem. Her blood test results
came back with all levels normal. Her liver and kidney function is
also normal. However she does have elevated white blood cells -
suspecting a bacterial infection. Her current symptoms are: weakness
of hind quarters, tremors, diarrhea, and dehydration. On Monday
while at the vets she had several seizures after being checked. The
doc suspected it could just be from stress. I noticed that after
each feeding she would have a seizure (licking the lips with foamy
saliva/drool). Since Monday she has sustained her current condition -
she isn't getting worse, but she also isn't getting better. She has
not had any seizures since Monday nite. She is eating a liquid diet
on a regular basis (kitten replacement formula and duck soup). No
vomiting whatsoever. The diarrhea is common since she is only on a
liquid diet. She does move around a bit on her own – to go to the
corner to relieve herself, although 1 out of 5 times can she stand on
her feet. She is also responsive to touch and her name. She can
hold her head up on her own but very weakly.

We have ruled out insulinoma, adrenal, and most of the common
diseases based upon the blood test. We have also tested for
distemper with the antibodies being 1-25 (400 being conclusive,
correct?). Dr. Littlehale says this level is suspect of a ferret
that has not been recently vaccinated which Snickers hasn't been
since being purchased over 5 years ago from a pet store. (I am not a
supporter of vaccinating, but after this scare I did vaccinate my
remaining *healthy* kids). So the current diagnosis is (possible)
distemper - although Snickers is not showing any *real* signs of
distemper. (Nor have any of my other ferrets or dogs (although they
have been inoculated) shown symptoms). This result came in yesterday
and this morning Snickers wasn't doing any worse, but she hadn't
gotten any better. She also is not exhibiting more obvious signs of
distemper. So the next test we are going to perform is ADV.

I was hoping you may be able to guide is some other directions as to
what she might have. Snickers is a very strong, but weak ferret.
Every time she has gotten gravely ill she has rallied but never fully
recovered to her normal weight. She was fed a poor quality cat food
during her development years (I adopted her only 3 yrs ago) and I
suspect this is why she has always been so fragile. But she is very
strong, holding on staying alive. Also is there anything I can do to
get the diarrhea under control and get her to keep liquids down? I
know the diarrhea must be very uncomfortable not to mention it is
dehydrating her. Also I had another ferret come down with drooling
and glassy stares bu Tuesday morning. Goose has never been sick in
the 2 yrs that I've had her but I also have not vaccinated her for
distemper. Her blood levels all came back normal with elevated white
blood cells. She is on the same antibiotics that Snickers is on
(baytril conc 10cc+VAL+Flagyl250mg#). We are testing her blood for
distemper those results should be back today or tomorrow. Today
Goose has rallied completely. No more staring or drooling. She is
active and alert. I currently am keeping all the ferrets separated
in different cages until we can figure out what the diagnosis is. Do
you think these illnesses are related?

Unfortunately I currently do not have access to the internet or I
could get on some sites and get some information. The vet is stumped
and is grasping at straws at what might be her problem. If I'm lucky
it's just a raging infection causing distemper/ADV like symptoms.

I appreciate you taking your time to respond to my questions.



PS - We are in CA so the exposure to ferrets and related diseases is