Message Number: YG318 | New FHL Archives Search
Date: 2001-02-27 13:27:00 UTC
Subject: Parvo Virus Question

Dear Heidi:

Thank you for your message - I have heard several reports on
it, and I appreciate the opportunity to perhaps obtain some
firsthand information.

The mutation of a canine parvovirus for ferrets would be very
unusual, and likely would result in a massive outbreak of all
ferrets in your house, and any others that they would have
come in contact with. The odds of a viral mutation that would
cross species lines is fairly astronomical; furthermore, as a
totally new viral disease of ferrets which no ferret has
previously seen - it would theoretically spread like wildfire.

At this point, there does not seem to be consensus as to how
your vet identified the disease as parvovirus - in such cases,
virus is generally recovered or at least visualized in the
feces, and a necropsy with positive identification of lesions
consistent with parvovirus infection would also be required.
Even with this type of workup, there is no proof of the origin
of this virus - mink also have an enteric parvovirus which is
far more likely to infect ferrets (although this has not yet
been documented).

Aleutian disease is another parvoviral disease of ferrets, but
it does not cause intestinal lesions, instead renal failure.
To further complicate this picture, some cases of endstage
Aleutian disease may manifest with clotting deficiencies.

It would be helpful to look at copies of any labwork,
bloodwork, and necropsy results on this ferret. Until such
time as at least positive proof that a parvovirus, any
parvovirus, was truly involved in this ferret's death, I would
not worry overtly about all of the ramifications of parvoviral
vaccination, sanitation, etc., and any reports or discussion
of a new ferret disease or a mutated virus should be
considered very premature.

Any further information that you can provide from your vets
would be very helpful in investigating this death. I know that
a lot of ferret owners are interested in any developments.

With kindest regards,

Bruce Williams, dVM
Join the Ferret Health List:

-----Original Message-----
From: Heidi Sent: Sunday, February 18, 2001 5:00 AM

Hi Dr. Williams

I resently had to put my 1 y.o. ferret to down apparently
due to a mutated Parvo Virus.
My own vet claims it´s parvo virus, no question about it.
Other vets tell me a ferret cannot get parvo virus and that
I should have my other animals tesetd for AVD and relaetd
diseases to figure out the eral cause of death.
Now I´m a little confused...none of the above vets are
familiar with domestic ferrets and so I don´t know who is
telling me the truth.

I have sterilised the other cages and quarantined each
animal in it´s own room.
I´m very cautious when handling them, always remembering to
wash my hands and change clothes between visits in each
room, just in case it´s contageous parvo virus.
I had the blankets and stuff from the dead ferret burned at
the local insemination plant and my dog was re-vaccinated
just to be on the safe side.

The weird thing is that the dead ferret WAS vaccined against
parvo virus/parvo diarrea, and still he crashed and bleed to
death right before my eyes.
I´ve read up on some micro-biology and as far as I can
gather vira is capable of mutatting and cheating the
vaccines and the immuno system.
If that is true, how can I be sure the vacines will do any

I hope you can help me with these questions, as my own vets
have little experiense in handling/treating ferrets and
actually started arguing about the issue while I was still
in the consultation...not something that made me feel any
better about the situation or helped me gain trust in their