From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-06-03 23:15:00 UTC
Subject: Re: ECE Questions
--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., ubkarate@y... wrote:
> Dr. Williams,
> I'm trying to learn as much about ECE as I can. After experiencing
> the virus first hand and having ferrets(ages 4-6)that had varying
> degrees of symptoms ranging from mild to death I am now terrified
> buy a new ferret. I had 6 ferrets, bought my 7th ferret and now
> 5 ferrets because my baby carried the virus into the house.
Dear Angie -
I share your hesitance in introducing new ferrets into my household
as well. I have never had an outbreak here, but the possibility is
> I have read the information about ECE on your website and it says
> that a ferret can shed the virus up to 6 months fol
> I had 4 ferrets become critically ill a week after I brought the
> ferret home(the baby ferret was kept separate from the other
> for a week)and 2 ferrets that didn't become ill until 2 months
> the virus hit the house.
There are always a lot of variables when introducing ECE into an
established facility, and not every individual reacts the same. A
couple of items here are worthy of comment.
a) >(the baby ferret was kept separate from the other ferrets
> for a week) - unfortunately, if the kit was in the same house, the
extreme contagiousness of this virus, it was spread all over the
house very quickly, on hands, clothing, shoes, etc.
b) >2 ferrets that didn't become ill until 2 months after
> the virus hit the house. - Sometimes it is not the early infection
that results in significant symptoms, but the followup inflammatory
disease in the intestine that results in the obvious clinical signs.
It is likely that these ferrets were infected contemporaneously with
the others, but the acute disease did not cause them as much problems
as the chronic disease.
> IF YOU BRING HOME A NEW FERRET THAT IS INFECTED WITH THE VIRUS, HOW
> LONG WILL THAT FERRET BE INFECTIOUS?
Can't tell, unless you know when they were infectious. You can
pretty well tell how long your ferrets will be infectious (at least
in broad terms). Give yourself 6 months from the outbreak in your
> WOULD THE BABY HAVE TO BE KEPT ISOLATED FROM THE OTHERS FOR 6
> TO BE ABSOUTALEY SURE IT DIDN'T CARRY THE VIRUS?
Well, your other ferrets have lready had the disease, so the risk to
them is minimal at this point.
> The baby had one day of slimy stool. That was the only sign that
> virus existed in him. He appears to be a normal healthy ferret
> although he eats very little food therefore has little stool. He
> a good weight(over 3 pounds) drinks water good and eats but it is
> small amounts.
Young ferrets are generlly asymptomatic carriers - we don't expect
major signs in them. The severity of the disease generally increase
proportionately with the age of the affected ferrets.
> Of the 5 ferrets left: 1 is the baby who is under 1 yr, 1 is 4yrs
> old, 2 are over 5yrs old, and 1 is now over 6yrs old and still
> recovering. I will do nothing to cause these ferret more harm. They
> are older and can't handle more. IS THERE ANY WAY TO BUY A NEW
> WITHOUT PUTTING THE OTHER FERRETS IN HARMS WAY? I can't see one.
AS I said before, introducing a new ferret to your existing
household, now that you've already had the disease will not be
harmful to your existing ferrets. Do realize, however, that if you
bring in a naive ferret, it will get ECE, however. If it is a kit,
the risk is small, but introducing an older naive ferret at this
point may put you back in the hot seat with ECE.
With kindest regards,
Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP
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