Message Number: YG3084 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Jacqueline Snyder
Date: 2001-05-01 01:38:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Coccidia in kits

The experience with new kits bringing in illness happened to us, also. Our
three older ferrets were hit with diarrhea and dehydration about a week
after we got two kits from a chain pet store. The kits had appeared
healthy. (At that time we didn't know to quarantine we do.) A
supposedly ferret-knowledgeable clinic diagnosed the problem as coccidia
brought in by the kits, and they probably did have coccidia. But along with
the coccidia, they brought ECE. The clinic didn't detect ECE. One of the
adult ferrets died that weekend, after an urgent trip to the closest
emergency clinic in another city, where the vet didn't know ferrets at all.
Another of the adult ferrets developed the chronic symptoms and for months
looked like a skeleton. The whole thing was a dreadful experience.

Lessons learned:

1. Quarantine new ferrets for two weeks, no exceptions--this means washing
potentially infected clothing, hands, and so on. I don't touch ferrets in
pet stores these days, and I wash up after handling friends' ferrets.

2. Don't believe it if a whole clinic claims to be ferret-knowledgeable.
It is unlikely that all vets at a clinic will be, although one of them is
probably highly qualified--you need to know specifically which one. (Turns
out that we got the horse doctor, who didn't ask the ferret doctor...) Get
vet references from experienced ferret owners.

3. Be aware the emergency clinics can be of limited value if the on-duty
vet isn't ferret-knowledgeable. One hasn't much choice in an emergency,
obviously, but if you have to see vet who isn't ferret-knowledgeable, you
can help the vet. Get the ferret veterinary Web site addresses, such as Dr.
Williams' site, and print out info you think could help--take this info to
the emergency clinic. But treat the vet with respect--if the vet
understands that you are simply a concerned, informed ferret owner and not
accusing him of ignorance, you can really help him help your ferret.

4. Have the number of a very knowledgeable ferret shelter on hand. These
people can sometimes talk you through ferret health emergencies, and often
know where to get fast, knowledgeable help. (For example, if we had an
emergency and our vet was unavailable, I would call a RN I know who has a
shelter. She has been an invaluable source of information.)

5. Be prepared. Read everything you can about ferret health and other
people's experiences. Having an idea of what's wrong can make a huge

I'm sure some of y'all have a few more tips, and I'd be interested to hear
them. I hope I haven't irritated any vets, as that isn't at all what I