Date: 2004-04-08 00:18:44 UTC
Subject: Re:More Helicobacter ?
Hi Dr Lawford and all,
Recently there was a post about treatment of Helicobacter
and stomach ulcers in ferrets. The author made several
suggestions for treatment of ferrets based on treatment
for humans and past experiences with pet or rescued ferrets.
I would like to clear up some of the confusion from that post
and give the current recommendations for treatment of ferrets
with gastric ulcers and Helicobacter.
Ferrets have Helicobacter mustelae which is very similar
to Helicobacter pylori that humans have. They are so similar
that researchers actually use ferrets as the animal model to
study ulcers and new treatment options for people. Yet they
Treatment of ulcers in ferrets begins with using Carafate about
10 minutes before feeding the ferret. Carafate will need to be used
several times each day. Carafate is called the ulcer "band aid"
because it covers the ulcer, and it prevents the pain and nausea
that ferrets with ulcers experience when they eat. It does not stay in
the ferret's stomach long enough to be used once or twice a day
like it is used in people.
If the ferret is dehydrated, then fluid therapy is used to correct
the dehydration. No ferret should die from dehydration when it
can be treated. Fluids can be giving SQ in most cases. Severe
cases may need IV fluids. Fortunately most ferrets can be treated
orally with rehydration products such as Pediasorb or Ritrol,
pedialyte, gatoraid, or just plain water added to the bland food.
A bland, easy to digest food is needed. Gerber's baby food
(2nd stage chicken or turkey), Hill's a/d, or Bob's chicken gravy
can be used, but the regular kibble should be stopped for 30 days.
Warm water can be added to the baby food or a/d to help
with hydration. Whipping cream is no substitute for baby food
or a/d or Bob's chicken gravy!
Antacids such as Tagamet, Pepcid, Prilosec, or Zantac can be
used the first few days to help control the pain and nausea also.
However they are not recommend for long term use (4+ weeks)
like they are in humans.
To treat the Helicobacter mustelae there are 2 different options.
The "old option" is to use amoxicillin, flagyl and Pepto-bismol.
This goes back to a study done back in 1990.
However this old protocol is no longer recommended!
The "new option" is to use Biaxin (clarithromycin 25mg/kg,
three times a day), amoxicillin, and an antacid for atleast
2 weeks. This study was done back in 1997. Some cases
may need biaxin and amoxicillin for 3-4 weeks to clear the
Helicobacter infection. Biaxin comes in different strengths.
One is 25mg/ml, and the other is 50mg/ml. Thus one has
to know the weight of the animal, and which version of
Biaxin (25mg/ml or 50mg/ml) to calculate how many mls
to give the pet ferret.
For ferret owners please Dr Williams' article in Ferrets magazine
(March/April page 18-23).
For vets or doctors please read the second edition of Ferrets,
Rabbits, and Rodents page 33-38 or Dr Fox's book (2 edition
p 327-335), or Dr Fox's article in Seminars in Avain and Exotic
Pet Medicine, Jan 2001.
Hope that helps,
Jerry Murray, DVM