Message Number: SG7626 | New FHL Archives Search
Date: 2004-01-29 22:48:59 UTC
Subject: Mystery Virus
To: Ferret-list@CUNYVM.CUNY.EDU
Message-ID: <>

As some of you know, we took in an 8 week old kit back in the first part of
January - exhibiting many of the symptoms described as being that of the
mystery virus-seizures/neurological signs, unstable temperature, lethargy, anorexia,
low RC/PCV, high WC. My vet in fact at the time of his release (his owners
couldn't pay for veterinary care) gave him less than 10% of survival...we put
him on aggressive supportive care (IV fluids and antibiotics) and while he
wasn't getting any worse, he wasn't getting any better. Based on some suspicions
from both my vet and suggestions from Dr. Williams, Rocky was placed on
chloramphenical on top of his other medications..and within a day we saw improvement.

>From a WC high of 29,000 in two days it dropped to 10,000. His temperature
stabilized and we began to see signs of strength and improvement. The worst of
his neurological signs have dissipated and today Rocky Bobble is doing great -
he is able to walk on his own and only has the head tilt/sway/bobbing with
some balance difficulty to indicate he is anything other than a healthy kit. He
is a fairly normal size and weight now for an 11 week old ferret (740g

Now comes the interesting part. Yesterday while taking Rocky in for another
CBC/chemistry, the vet told me that the pet store that sold Rocky called him. I
had reported the possible meningitis case to them when we believed that is
what he had and also told them the vet who was treating him. It turns out that a
day or two prior to Rocky's sale, an employee at the store was diagnosed with
meningitis and the pet store was checking to see if anyone at the vet clinic
had come down with it!

While handling Rocky at the vet clinic, I took strict precautions to
disinfect myself and keep the ferrets in my house safe. I have had no other ferrets
come down with any symptoms similar to this.

So I wonder - is what we are seeing in these very young kits in fact a form
of meningitis? It does make sense as the immune system in a ferret this young
is still immature and more susceptible to disease. I also understand that
meningitis can be spread from people to pets and vice versa.

I wish in Rocky's case we were able to make a definitive diagnosis based on
samples collected, but we were unable to locate anyone who was willing to do a
spinal tap on such a small young ferret.

Just something that I felt I should pass on. Rocky's lab results and all of
his information/medical charts are open for any vets who are interested and
feel that they may help another ferret.

Lisa Leidig, Head Ferret
Shelter Wench in good standing
The Ferret Haven "By-the-Sea"