Message Number: FHL5244 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Sukie Crandall
Date: 2008-06-19 16:59:29 UTC
Subject: [ferrethealth] Re: Questions about FIP
To: fhl <>

The FIP-like illness that ferrets get appears genetically to be a=20
mutation of the ECE coronavirus rather than FIP.

Vet Pathol. 2008 Mar;45(2):236-46.
Clinicopathologic features of a systemic coronavirus-associated=20
disease resembling feline infectious peritonitis in the domestic=20
ferret (Mustela putorius).
Garner MM, Ramsell K, Morera N, Juan-Sall=E9s C, Jim=E9nez J, Ardiaca M, =

Montesinos A, Teifke JP, L=F6hr CV, Evermann JF, Baszler TV, Nordhausen =

RW, Wise AG, Maes RK, Kiupel M.
Northwest ZooPath, 654 W. Main, Monroe, WA 98296, USA.

From 2002 to 2007, 23 ferrets from Europe and the United States were=20
diagnosed with systemic pyogranulomatous inflammation resembling=20
feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). The average age at the time of=20
diagnosis was 11 months. The disease was progressive in all cases, and=20
average duration of clinical illness was 67 days. Common clinical=20
findings were anorexia, weight loss, diarrhea, and large, palpable=20
intra-abdominal masses; less frequent findings included hind limb=20
paresis, central nervous system signs, vomiting, and dyspnea. Frequent=20
hematologic findings were mild anemia, thrombocytopenia, and=20
hypergammaglobulinemia. Grossly, whitish nodules were found in=20
numerous tissues, most frequently the mesenteric adipose tissue and=20
lymph nodes, visceral peritoneum, liver, kidneys, spleen, and lungs.=20
One ferret had a serous abdominal effusion. Microscopically,=20
pyogranulomatous inflammation involved especially the visceral=20
peritoneum, mesenteric adipose tissue, liver, lungs, kidneys, lymph=20
nodes, spleen, pancreas, adrenal glands, and/or blood vessels.=20
Immunohistochemically, all cases were positive for coronavirus antigen=20
using monoclonal antibody FIPV3-70. Electron microscopic examination=20
of inflammatory lesions identified particles with coronavirus=20
morphology in the cytoplasm of macrophages. Partial sequencing of the=20
coronavirus spike gene obtained from frozen tissue indicates that the=20
virus is related to ferret enteric coronavirus.

PMID: 18424841


So far it is very rare and seems to be showing up in young ferrets.

The symptoms are rather specific.

Past vet posts that may help:
from 2007
Good question, but we do not know the answer yet.
The ferret enteric coronavirus (i.e. ECE) is contagious,
but we do not know enough about the ferret systemic corona
(i.e. FIP) virus to know if it is contagious to other ferrets
(or to cats) yet. If any of your other ferrets start to lose
weight or have a decreased appetite, it would be a good
thing to have them checked by your vet(s) and to have
their globulin levels (esp. gammaglobulins) checked.
The sooner they are started on Pediapred the better.
Happy Holidays,
Jerry Murray, DVM
from 2007

Yes, ferrets are now having a systemic coronavirus
disease that is very similar to the dry form of feline FIP.
Bloodwork will usually show an increase in the globulins
(esp. gammaglobulins) and anemia.
The biopsy results are very similar to feline FIP
(pyogranulomatous inflammatory lesions). Instead of
viral isolation, an IHC staining can be done with the
feline FIP antibody to verify the presence of the coronavirus.
It is actually the ferret coronavirus and not the cat corona-
virus that is causing the problem based on work from Michigan
State University.
Treatment is similar to feline FIP with pred (Pediapred) and feline
interferon omega (Virbagen Omega from Virbac). Antibiotics can be
used for secondary infections (doxycycline (5 mg/kg bid) is currently
recommended for cats with FIP). Nutritional support with Hill's a/d,=20
food, and/or Oxbow's carnivore care may help. Pet tinic may help
with the anemia. Antioxidants may help decrease some of the
inflammation and lesions. Low dose aspirin is still suggested by
some for cats with FIP. Unfortunately ferrets with FIP (just like cats
with FIP) usually have a progressive and fatal disease.
Hope that helps and feel free to have your vets contact me if they
have any more questions.
Jerry Murray, DVM

from 2007

Hi everybody,
As some of you know, the corona virus that causes
ECE is now also causing a systemic disease that is
very similar to (the dry form of) feline FIP.
The article Sukie mentioned is scheduled for the
June 08 issue of Vet Pathology. It will describe 23
cases of this new but not so rare disease.
There will be a 2 part presentation on ferret FIP
at next years avian and exotic conference in
Savannah, GA (August 08). Plus there should be
some articles for practicing vets come out soon.
Hope that helps,
Jerry Murray, DVM

from 2007


How was this ferret diagnosed with FIP?
what are the clinical signs? when was he diagnosed?
and how old is this ferret?
1) Yes, I have heard of it
2) and I have had 3 cases so far. 2 have been put down, but 1
is still alive and doing well. He was treated with just Pediapred.
Diagnosis is made by the clinical signs, bloodwork (anemia, and
elevated globulins from a polyclonal hypergammaglobulinemia),
biopsy of the lesion (with pyogranulomatous inflammation), and
it is positive by Immunohistochemostry for the coronavirus.
Treatment can include Pediapred, Cytoxan, antibiotics, and
interferon omega. Interferon omega helps in cats when giving
early in the disease process. More info on FIP in cats can be
found at
3)This disease is believed to be from the ferret coronavirus. We
do not know if this disease is contagious at this time.
4) Bleach is the best way to kill viruses, so clean cages, food bowls,
litter boxes, etc with bleach (ie Clorox Clean-Up).
Hope that helps and get back to us with more info on this ferret.
Jerry Murray, DVM

FROM 2006

The cases of FIP-like disease seen in ferrets
are very similar to the dry form of FIP seen in cats.
The dry form can be very hard to diagnose, but anemia,
elevated globulins (polyclonal gamma globulins), and the
pyogranulomatous lesions are what to look for.
So far most of the cases have been young ferrets (<1yr).
The clinical signs can vary alot as Sukie pointed out
depending on which organ(s) has the pyogranulomatous
lesions. GI signs and neurological signs are the most common
signs so far.
Merry Christmas to all,
Jerry Murray, DVM


and there are more

If the test results are not right or the symptoms are not like the dry=20
form of FIP in cats then other possibilities are more likley.

Sukie (not a vet)

Recommended ferret health links:

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


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