Message Number: YG5087 | New FHL Archives Search
Date: 2001-07-03 12:15:00 UTC
Subject: ADV - Testing and other things

Recently, I have been following some of the discussion of
this list about ADV
and ADV tests, and thought I would jump in with some of my
opinions and
Two years ago when I found out I had ferrets that tested
positive for ADV
with the CEP test, I wanted to believe the stories I had heard
that the CEP
test was not reliable, and that it had a high false positive
rate. I even
knew of some people, and had heard of others, that had ferrets
that tested
positive and yet never got sick from ADV. Instead, they
eventually developed
some other problem, and died from that. Obviously, they had a
false positive
test result, right?
Maybe not. In the cases I knew of personally, no necropsy was
done, and no
other tests that would prove or disprove that the ferret had
ADV. Instead,
what I now think happened, based on reading I have done and my
experiences, is that because the ferret did not develop
obvious ADV symptoms,
it was assumed the ferret did not have ADV, despite the CEP
test. And, if
that is the case, then in 5 or 10 years people will probably
be saying that
the Avecon tests have a high false positive rate as well.
The fact is, that while many ferrets that get ADV do develop
classic symptoms
and die, not all ferrets do. But the fact a ferret is healthy
does not mean
it does not have the disease and is not spreading it. This is
a lessen I
have learned the hard way.
Currently, I have 9 ferrets that test positive for ADV. All
of my ferrets
have been tested at least several times by both the CEP and
the ELISA test.
Since the ELISA was in trial, I have used both tests
concurrently, and the
results have always matched except twice. I had one ferret
that tested
negative the first 2 times I used the ELISA for him, even
though I know from
other tests that he is ADV+. (Yes, false negatives happen
also.) Perhaps I
did not get a good saliva sample, though. I think both the
CEP and the
Avecon tests are fairly accurate, and generally do not
recommend one over the
other. Each test has its advantages, and you just need to
decide which one
best suits your needs. Remember, though, no test is 100%
accurate, and so
retesting at a later time is always advisable.
Anyway, as I said, I have 9 that are definitely positive for
ADV. Of the 9,
only one is 'sick'. For the past 20 or so months he has gone
through periods
of severe wasting and lethargy, and with lots of special care,
I have so far
been able to pull him out of it each time. Since the first
episode, I know
he has impaired liver function, and it gets a little worse
each time he
crashes. I know that for more then a year he has suffered
from high
gammaglobulin levels (between 45 and 50%, where 20% is the
upper normal). It
is easy to know he has ADV. The other 8, though, do not
appear sick. I do
consider 3 of them to have clinical ADV, because they have
levels around 25%, and one has slight liver impairment. But
these are things
that can only be known from bloodtests. The three appear
healthy, and still
have nice soft coats, bright eyes, and are very active. The
other 5 not only
appear healthy, but so far have normal gammaglobulin levels,
and have not
suffered any organ damage. So, do they have ADV? In my
opinion, I now would
say yes. I know, based on results of PCR tests run by the
researchers at the
U of GA that last fall one of them had ADV viral DNA in their
blood and urine
for a brief period, which means that even though they appeared
healthy, they
were able to spread the disease. I also know, based on PCR
results, that
another of my ferrets had ADV DNA in his urine, feces, saliva
and blood for a
period of several months consecutively, and again, there was
no visible
change in his appearance or actions.
I have been alarmed by the ADV poll results, when I see the
number of people
that have not tested their ferrets. This disease is real, and
it is
spreading. I think it is important for people to test.
For those people that are still unfamiliar with just what ADV
is, here is a
URL that has 2 excellent articles with information on ADV:
The first is an article by Dr. Nye, and is a text file. The
second is Dr.
Stevenson's article from the Feb. issue of the Compendium.
She is one of the
researchers at the U of GA, and worked under Dr. Bloom before
going to U of
GA. The second article is a PDF file, so you will need Adobe
Reader to open
So, in conclusion, learn all you can about ADV, test your
ferrets, and
support ADV research.
Thanks for listening.