Message Number: FHL11847 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Sukie Crandall
Date: 2010-07-18 16:01:04 UTC
Subject: [ferrethealth] Re: 'Mystery Diseases'
To: fhl <>

When mutations happen they usually are
not successful, but certainly mutations do
happen and some survive. Also, stronger
bacteria evolve when people misuse antibiotics.
Antibiotic resistance happens when a genetic
variation of a bacterium that can survive the
antibiotics exists. Such variations are usually
in small numbers BUT then people use antibiotics
too often -- like trying to use them for viruses
when they won't work for viruses which increases
the exposures so that the proportion of the
resistant bacterial variation increases in the
bacterial population (This is an evolutionary
mechanism found in the field of genetics
called population genetics which deals with
changing proportions of individuals with certain
characteristics within a population.) Remember
that bacteria have many, many generations in
a very short time so many genetic/evolutionary
changes can be seen happening in a shorter
amount of time than for us big creatures. There
are locations on genes which appear to be more
vulnerable to mutation than others, and some
organisms are more prone to mutation than others.

That said, mysteries happen all the time in every
species and unless there are unusual characteristics
(like happened with the mutant of ECE that produces
FIP-like characteristics, or Myofasciitis) then there is
not any reason to assume the mystery deaths in
different locations are related.

Remember, too, that there are a number of toxins and
illnesses that can NOT be easily found in cadavers.
Yes, crime shows make it look easy. They take a tiny
sample and suddenly know all, but in reality some toxins
are very hard to recover, some have to be recovered
from the site itself because they change in the body,
and some illnesses -- like the recent posts on Clostridium
-- full cadavers and sometimes multiple cadavers --
are needed in full by knowledgeable pathologists to find
out what is happening. (Illness from Clostridium is rare
in ferrets so see the recent posts on that so may not even
be looked for.) Some other toxins or illnesses require
very specialized testing equipment than most locations
will simply NOT have.

Is it likely that a benign organism to become a dangerous
one? It is unlikely but possible.

Is it likely for an existing disease to mutate in a way that
makes it more inclined to kill? Certainly, look at strains of
influenza for examples in the news.

Notice that most illnesses which kill very readily do not often
spread very readily, and that illnesses that spread readily
often do not kill readily. There is a good reason for this.
Organisms which off their hosts die themselves. If they can
spread before the individual gets sick (which some viruses
can do) they increase their survival, but under normal
conditions when an extreme illness is going around the hosts
become less crowded and have fewer interactions with each
other so the chances of successfully spreading to other hosts
reduces. That is why the most successful illnesses only make
their hosts a little ill but spread easily, like the common cold
(rhinovirus). (BTW, ferrets do not get rhinoviruses.)

Sukie (not a vet)

Recommended ferret health links:
all ferret topics:

"All hail the procrastinators for they shall rule the world tomorrow."
(2010, Steve Crandall)


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