From: "Sukie Crandall"
Date: 2008-06-11 17:21:28 UTC
Subject: [ferrethealth] Re: Ferrets and Pregnancy - RE Listeria
I will preface this with a reminder that I neither
a vet nor an infectious diseases expert, but maybe
what i found could be useful.
This was written as I was looking
I find ONE paper in PubMed from 1950 finding
listeria in ferrets BUT that was only after they
badly compromised the ferrets by infecting them
with canine distemper. Their conclusion was that
there may have been asymptomatic infection BUT
if that had been the case then many further papers
on the disease in ferrets would be expected in the
68 years between then and now. It seems more
likely that seriously compromised ferrets might be
able to catch it. Note also in the paper that way
that it was found did not involve the ferrets showing
signs of infection with the bacterium so perhaps it
may be that they accidently contaminated their
The paper can be found in two places:
(pages 312 to 314)
There are two references claiming Listeria to be
found in ferrets that are cited in _Biology and
Diseases of the Ferret_ and there is one other
paper which claimed to have found it in a
different mustelid, the sable, according to that text.
The other ferret paper (other than the 1950 one)
referenced in the text also involved the necropsy
of a highly compromised ferret (cardiomyopathy
and adrenal disease as causes of death). With so
few reports, and the two situations involving such
highly compromised animals make it look more likely
that your future baby and wife would be at greater
risk from far more likely causes of exposure such as
contaminated water, soil, etc.
A useful note that may give her a smile: Since
unsuspected, asymptomatic fecal carriers have been
documented in other species (including humans)
you can take over the litter chore and cleaning the
If a ferret did break with Listeria enough to have
symptoms the suspicion mentioned in the text is that
it would look like rabies or other major CNS (central
nervous system) diseases look in symptoms.
If your wife is still worried you can ask your vet about
putting your ferrets through a run of antibiotics such
as Amoxi. The text lists others on page 343 of the
2nd edition. The text says certain antibiotics kill it.
People who are to have a child more often ask about
Toxoplasmosis. Let me allow the past posts of
veterinary pathologist, Dr. Bruce Williams speak on
The are some coccidia, though that do live in ferret tissues for a
very long time, such as toxoplasmosis, but they never complete their
life cycle in the ferret. The are ingested, migrate through the
tissues of the body, usually hole up in cysts in the brain, and
remain there until the animal is eaten by another predator, at which
time they can infect the predator. However, it is only if that
predator is a cat that these organisms will ever complete their life
cycle and be passed in the feces as infective eggs.
Mike, you constantly amaze me, pulling up all those old quotes.
But this is indeed true - ferrets, like any mammal, can contract
Toxoplasmosis, but only cats can pass the infective eggs in the
feces - cats are the definitive host. The only feces that you can
catch toxo from is cat feces.
Any mammal can pass infective organisma living within the cells of
their body if they are eaten without being cooked well, however -
this is why it is recommended that all pregnant women cook their meat
(beef, pork) well. If you eat a cat, or a ferret, or a kangaroo, you
could theoretically ingest the organism that way, but I doubt there
is any likelihood of that.
The chance of contracting Toxo from your ferret is astronomical, but
let's make sure your husband cleans up after those cats!
Sukie (not a vet)
Recommended ferret health links:
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