Message Number: SG14371 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Sukie Crandall
Date: 2005-06-14 02:47:02 UTC
Subject: ADV Update - Part 5
Message-id: <>

Because the posts approved on the website are still missing, but =

posts approved by mail are appearing I am carrying the 5th post in =

the this informative ADV series so that the posts will not get out of =



From: Danee <>
To: "Ferret Health List" <>

Permission to cross post the following information to other lists is
granted, as long as the post is taken in it entirety, with out any
changes or additions.

In Parts 3 and 4 of this series, I spoke mostly about what has happened
over the last few years. Today I want to talk about what is happening
in the present.

Right before the Ferret Symposium in St. Louis started, I received a
call from Kate Pennick. She wanted to let me know that her paper on her
ADV research had been accepted for publication in a peer review journal.
For anyone that missed it earlier, the paper is being published =

in the
=93Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation=94. This is a bi-monthly=

publication, and she is not sure if it will appear in the September or
the November issue. When I find out which issue, I will pass the
information along, so people can let their vets know to look for it.

While we were on the phone, we also chatted about the research in
general, and what was currently happening. Kate mentioned that while
things had been pretty quiet for several years, since mid March of this
year the pace had suddenly picked up quite a bit, primarily because of 2

The first was because PETsMART had contacted the team at UGA about
setting up testing procedures for the breeding colonies that will supply
the kits they will be selling. Apparently PETsMART already had a
working relationship with Dr. Ritchie, because of his knowledge and
experience in treating avian diseases. Since they were already familiar
with Dr. Ritchie, and knew his group was also looking at ADV, I guess it
was logical they would turn to them to help set up the testing.

Now, this is very good news. Right now, many of the farms that supply
ferret kits to pet stores do not do any kind of ADV testing. Where I
live, in the Mid Atlantic region, we have had problems with ferret kits
being sold from some pet stores already infected with ADV. PETsMART
will be setting a new precedent by requiring the breeders who supply
them with kits to test their breeding colony. And, since they handle
the transportation of the kits from the breeders to the stores, there
will be no chance of exposure along the way.

We can hope that with PETsMART testing for ADV, some of the other
suppliers of ferret kits (the farms), the distributors, and the
retailers who sell them will follow the example.

Testing needs to be done at the ferret farms, and on the ferrets used
for breeding purposes. Most of the tests we have commercially available
are not accurate on very young kits. Kits generally need to be between
4 to 6 months of age before you can rely on a test result being
accurate. This is because the commercially available tests are all
antibody tests, and it takes the kits=92 bodies a while to build up
sufficient antibody levels for them to be detected by the tests.

However, if the ferrets used in the breeding are tested, and are
negative, then there is little chance of exposure to the disease at the
farm. And, if distributors follow good sanitation procedures, and only
handle kits from farms that test, then there will be less chance of
exposure while the kits are on their way to the stores. It would be
really great if we had some assurance that kits sold in pet stores were
most likely not carrying ADV

Because PETsMART will be paying UGA for the testing services, this will
also be money coming into the program. While the amount the University
charges for the testing they do really only covers the cost of running
the tests, it means that donations we make to ADV Research will not be
used to pay for testing of ferrets.

The second thing that Kate told me about was a bit of a bad news/good
news item.

To provide a little background, in several of the southeastern states,
domestic skunks are very popular as pets. There are several large
breeding farms in GA and AL. There are also some national skunk fancier
organizations that put on shows, much like the AFA ferret shows. There
are large annual skunk shows in Orlando, FL, and in Atlanta, GA, as well
as some smaller shows in other cities in the southeast.

Through the Internet, I have gotten to know several people that have
both skunks and ferrets, and I have always asked them about the
possibility of ADV crossing from one to the other. However, they have
all always assured me that skunks do not get ADV. While I thought this
might be another case of just not testing for ADV, and so not really
knowing if the skunks could get ADV, I was not in a position to argue
with them.

Apparently, one of the skunk farms in GA recently started having
problems with their breeders getting a mystery disease, and in some
cases dying. The vet that treated the farm skunks was stumped by this
mystery disease, and because UGA has an excellent exotic animal
veterinary program and an excellent wildlife veterinary program, Dr.
Ritchie=92s team was contacted and asked to look at tissue and blood
samples to see if they could find what the cause was.

Most of you have probably already guessed that what they found was that
the skunks had ADV.

The reason I say this is a good news/bad news situation is this. It is
naturally bad for the skunks and the skunk fanciers. It might prove
good for the ADV research program, because there is now another
companion animal that is affected by ADV. There will now be more people
wanting the research done, and a vaccine found. This could equate to
more people donating money to help fund the research. But, it might
also prove to be a hindrance to finding a vaccine for ferrets, because
the skunk ADV is likely a separate strain, and so it may (but not
necessarily) require a separate vaccine.

When I spoke with Kate, she was busy with meetings with the skunk
breeders and was going to be getting more blood and tissue samples. One
of the things she said she would likely do soon was compare the DNA from
the skunk ADV with the DNA from the ferret ADV, to verify whether or not
they were the same.

Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to ask her how it was presenting
in the skunks, so I donut know if the symptoms are similar to what we
see in ferrets or not.

In my next post I will talk about where we go from here.
-- =

International Ferret Congress Health Issues Coordinator
ADV - If your ferret hasn't been tested, you don't know!
For more information visit:
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