Message Number: YG3640 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-05-16 18:32:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Marlow's vet visit, he has heartworms - RE: New Rescues

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., "Stewart" <stu71@s...> wrote:
> Hi Everyone,
> This is a follow up to my post about my new ferrets. We took
> to the vet yesterday and got his results today. He is testing
> positive for the heartworm antigen, a confirmatory test is being
> The doc is going to put him on 1 mL prednisone per day and a
> preventive treatment (revolution). I wasn't with my wife when she
> picked him up so I didn't get to ask any questions, but I am
> the revolution is to prevent any increase in his worm burden? I
> that the revolution doesn't effect the adult worms already present,
> but kills or prevents the development of the microfilaria into
> adults. If anyone has any experience with ferrets that have had
> heartworms I would appreciate any info that you would like to
> contribute. I want to do everything I can to maximize his quality
> life for as long as I can.

Dear Stewart:

This is always a difficult situation, and it often depends on the
numbers of worms in the heart. The presence of worms interferes with
the function of the valves in the heart, and precipitates heart
failure - the more worms, the faster the process.

But treatment of the adults in the heart is not without risk itself -
up to 50% of ferrets may die as a result of an inability to keep them
quiet after you kill the adult worms.

The path that you are taking will prevent additional worms from
developing and your other ferrets from getting heartworms via
mosquitoes who have fed on this particular ferret, but you may run
into problems if the number of heartworms is significant. Ultrasound
may help in the hands of an experienced vet in enumerating how many
worms are in the heart.

This is not a situation in which I or any vet other than the one who
has all the information (your vet) can assist you in making this
difficult decision.

With kindest regards,

Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP
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