Message Number: YG5777 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-07-25 22:30:00 UTC
Subject: Re: How prevalent is the canine distemper virus?

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., jaime_wolf@r... wrote:
> Hi- I was really happy to hear of the new merial distemper vaccine.
> We are definitely going to explore using this with one of our
> who had a horrible reaction last year to the Fervac vaccine. I
> want to leave him unvaccinated- it seems too risky. But I am just
> curious- how prevalent is canine distemper and is it more common in
> certain geographical locations? Does anyone know where I could get
> stats on this? I read sometime on the FML that you don't even have
> to expose your ferrets to another animal who's carrying the disease
> (they don't really come in contact with other animals anyway), that
> you can bring it in the house on shoes, clothing, etc. If they go
> outside are they more at risk? Is there a lower risk if they're
> strictly indoors all the time? Does anyone know how long the virus
> lives in an environment like a puddle of water or on clothes?

Dear Jaime:

I see about 6 cases of distemper yearly, usually in pet store kits.
These animals generally have received one distemper vaccine, so are
not fully protected, and they are often commingled with puppies of
similarly questionable vaccine history. There does not seem to be
any appreciable geographic distribution, however, this sample is far
too small to yield any real data.

Keeping ferrets indoors limits your possibility of contracting
disease. The chance of actually bringing it in on shoes, etc is very
remote but possible. Chances of contracting increase with direct
exposure to other animals - non-sanctioned ferret shows, pet stores,
even vet's offices could serve as a source of virulent virus.

The key is that distemper is 100% fatal in ferrets, and really is not
worth the risk, especially if the Recombitek vaccine lives up to
advance billing.

With kindest regards,

Bruce Williams, DVm