Message Number: YG10899 | New FHL Archives Search
Date: 2002-02-09 09:25:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Confirmatory tests for Aleutian disease

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., "kath0524" wrote:

> I don't expect answers to these questions. I just want to
point out
> the frustration for those of us who want to do the right
thing. But,
> when even the experienced folks seems to disagree, how can
we know
> what is right? So, the next time you get frustrated about
people not
> testing, maybe you'll understand a little better. I have
provided my
> vet with lots of ADV information, some of it quite
contradictory. I
> also have extra "home" tests and test any new ferret who
comes into my
> home. I don't feel confident about it but it's all I know
to do.

I can appreciate your frustration! What is more frustrating
is that this disease has been around for between 30 to 50
years (depending on what source you look at) and we still know
so little. As Judy said in her talk at the Symposium - That
is unacceptable!
For now, testing with the commercially available tests is the
best we can do. I do think they are all fairly reliable - it
is just that no test is 100% accurate, and everyone has to
understand this. And, when a positive result is encountered,
that ferret has to be regarded as potentially carrying and
spreading the disease. Additional testing (CBCs,
electrophoresis, etc.) are great, and can be very helpful in
diagnosing problems relating to ADV, but it can take time for
those tests to detect the telltale ADV symptoms. If the
exposure to ADV has been recent, the ADV test may be positive
but all other tests may still show normal results.
When my ferrets first tested positive for ADV, I believed,
wanted to believe, that it was a false positive result, or
that is was antibodies from exposure, but not really ADV.
Even as some of my kids started showing elevated protein
levels, I held on to the belief that the others did not really
have it. After 2 1/2 years, I am starting to think that a
positive ADV test means the ferret has ADV. It may take time
for the disease to take hold, but it is there, and will
eventually show up in the other blood work. I would like to
be proved wrong on this, for the sake of other ferrets, but it
is what my experience has shown to be the case.
Each of the commercial tests has its strong points and its
drawbacks. The POCT has the greatest chance of falling victim
to human error, since it is being administered for the most
part by laypeople. The CEP is read by a human, and if that
person is tired or having eyestrain, they may misread the
result. Also, if the samples are collected by the owner
clipping claws short, there is a chance for cross
contamination. The ELISA uses saliva, which means collecting
the sample is less stressful for the ferret. It is also read
by a machine, so there is less chance of error there. But,
there may (and I stress may because it has not been proved) be
a chance that the protein it tests for will not be present if
the disease is in remission.
There are many things about ADV that we do not know, and so
there are points that the experts disagree on. We do not even
know how easily it is transmitted, or when during the course
of the disease. There are households with ADV+ ferrets where
almost all the ferrets are infected, and others where only a
few are. That is why more research is needed, so some of the
questions can be answered.
ADV is a disease that can seemingly take different forms. I
can tell you about what I have observed in my house, but it
may be totally different from what someone else has
experienced with their ferrets. The symptoms of ADV are wide
ranging, and can mimic many other well known ferret ailments.
In her talk, Judy referenced Fox's book several times. Not
the section where he discusses ADV, but other areas, where he
describes problems like gingivitis and cardiomyopathy, and
states that in some cases these problems can be caused by ADV.
Unfortunately, right now I don't think anyone has the answers.
Yes, ADV is a very frustrating disease. While I do not think
it is a major epidemic (yet) I think the potential is there.
I also think it is a lot more common then many people want to
believe. It is important for all ferrets to be tested at
least once a year, and probably several times a year is
better. Even if you don't take your ferrets to shows and
frolics, what about the vet's office. How do you know that
the healthy looking ferret in the carrier sitting near you in
the waiting room doesn't have ADV?
I understand the frustration people feel over the testing
issues. But, that really isn't an excuse not to test. You do
the best you can with what is available. And, you take
whatever precautions you can to protect your kids.
ADV - If your ferret hasn't been tested, you don't know!
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