Message Number: YG4760 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-06-22 01:41:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Leukemia question

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., fuzztek@a... wrote:
> I have a 2 yr. old ferret diagnosed with Leukemia. Does anyone know
> if this is similar to Feline Leukemia meaning is it viral and is it
> contagious?
> Yvonne

The terminology associated with malignant lymphoma (lymphosarcoma)
can be tricky.

Leukemia simply means that a neoplastic proliferation of white blood
cells is occurring in the peripheral blood and/or the bone marrow.
It says nothing about the cell type (although the vast majority are
lymphocytic leukemias), or the differentiation of the cells -
immature neoplastic lymphocytes in the blood is called acute
lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) and mature neoplastic lymphocytes is
called chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). The chronic forms of
leukemia generally have a longer average lifespan.

While feline leukemia is generally considered to be retroviral in
origin, realize that there are spontaneous forms of non-viral
leukemias in cats (which could also be called feline leukemias, if
that name hadn't been subsumed for one particular disease.

There has long been speculation and some good circumstantial evidence
that some forms of ferret lymphoma are viral in origin, but it has
not yet been conclusively proven. So the anwer to your second
question is an unqualified "maybe"....

With kindest regards,

Bruce Williams, DVM, DACVP