Message Number: YG326 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Dr. Bruce Williams
Date: 2001-02-27 16:05:00 UTC
Subject: Re: mink diseases

Dear Vickie:

It is likely, although not proven, that ECE may be a ferret adapted
strain of ECG. Both diseases are caused by coronavirus, mink have
been infected during outbreaks of ECE, and you are not the only
ferret fancier to have mink as well. The co-habitation of ferrets
and mink at the same facility does predispose to the sharing of
diseases between these very closely related species. The main
difference between ECG of mink and ECE of ferrets is that the mink
disease (epizootic catarrhal gastritis) primarily hits the stomach in
mink, but ECE hits the intestine of ferrets. Other than that they
are almost identical.

Mink viral enteritis is caused by a parvovirus, and the lesions of
the two diseases (MVE and ECE) are quite different (at least to a
pathologist). ECE, or coronavirus attacks the mature cells of the
tips of the intestinal villi. While it causes some severe diarrhea,
because the immature proliferating cells at the bottom of the villi
(the crypts) are spared, the animal can regenerate the lost cells and
recover. This is why ECE is a very survivable disease.

Parvovirus on the other hadn (currently only seen in mink, not
ferrets) attacks the crypt epithelium in the intestine. When you
kill off the cells which can divide and which are responsible for
repair, this creates a far worse problem, because there is no way for
the animal to fix the damage. That is why parvovirus infection in
dogs, cats and mink is so devastating. Luckily for parvovirus, we
have a vaccine.

Unfortunately, there is no cross-reaction between parvoviruses and
coronaviruses, so parvoviral vaccines would not work in ECE.

On a side note, I have on rare occasions seen cases which looked like
parvoviral enteritis in ferrets; however I was unable to prove an

With kindest regards,

Bruce Williams, dVM
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--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., jbferret@m... wrote:
> when I got my one and only mink almost 2 years ago, I started more
> indepth research on mink diseases and wanted to make sure I wasn't
> putting my ferrets at risk.
> I ordered distamink from united and vaccinated Whiskey for
> distemper. When I received the vaccine I also received a list of
> the other things that mink have vaccines for; botulism, hemorrhagic
> pneumonia, distemper, mink viral enteritis just to name a few.
> Mink can get epizootic catarrhal gastroenteritis. Sounds alot like
> ferret ece. Reading up on mink viral enteritis, that sounds alot
> like ferret ece too. Actually MVE sounds more like ECE than ECG.
> Can Dr. Williams (or one of the other experts on the list) clarify
> the similarities/differences for us?
> Was the vaccine for MVE ever tried on ferrets to see if it would
> prevent ECE?
> Also, since I was using united for my ADV testing, I was able to
> Whiskey along with my ferrets.
> Vickie