From: "Lisa Oestereich"
Date: 2011-02-18 16:33:41 UTC
Subject: [ferrethealth] Confirmed H1N1 in Ferrets
About a week and a half ago, a good friend began to find some of her
ferrets were ill. They had major lung congestion. She started bringing
them to the vet and day after day, more and more of her 16 ferrets
became ill until eventually all of them exhibited the same signs of
illness. One ferret who was hit particularly hard by the illness was
put on oxygen last week, but each time they took him out of the oxygen,
he turned blue. They tried everything they could, but the ended up
having to help him to the bridge. That ferret's sacrifice provided
tissue samples for pathology. The pathology came back this past
Wednesday saying it was viral, possibly human influenza type A or
possibly H1N1. A throat swab from another very ill ferret came back
positive for H1N1.
Although some of the ferrets seem to be a wee bit better, they are all
still sick. Now another is on oxygen and having a hard time. All 16
are on meds (Clavamox), fluids and hand feedings around the clock. The
vet says it's too late for Tamiflu and we're all wondering if a change
in antibiotics might help (like to a more powerful med like
Chlorenphenicol or Zithromax).
My friend's husband was sick about two weeks ago, but, although sick, he
didn't feel as sick as one might think if you have H1N1 (which still
needs to be confirmed, but seems obvious to them) and his doctor put him
on Zithromax. Would that get rid of the H1N1 or could he still be a
This is fairly unchartered territory when it comes to treating
protocols. Have any of the vets on the FHL had experience with treating
ferrets for H1N1?
Currently they're all on Clavamox, nebulizer treatments, fluids and hand
feedings. One is on oxygen. All poop is fine, in case you were
wondering (group sickness so often goes hand in hand with bad poop, I
just thought I'd mention that's not the case here).
My friend is so tired she can barely keep her eyes open and the vet
bills, so far, are several thousand dollars ( and she's not done yet).
This is such a good lesson - when you're ill, you must either stay away
from your ferrets or mask and glove up each time you touch them or work
on their cage. Something you think is a bad cold can actually be
something far worse.
I will pass any info obtained from the FHL to her. Thank you for any
help you can provide.
[Antibiotics are for bacterial infections, but
when ferrets have an extreme influenza they
are sometimes given to help prevent secondary
Antivirals are different from antibiotics.
Influenza is an antiviral.
Here is h1n1 information:
and on ways to avoid getting it or spreading it:
(from that page a person can play the video or
select the text)
I had h1n1 a few years ago but due to being born
in 1950 I'd already had a previous exposure and
my illnesses was very mild. My husband showed
no signs of illnesses. Yes, we tried hard to be
extra careful and got lucky because sometimes
virus will shed before a person even feels ill. That
may be what happened in your friend's family.
Swine flu is not new to people who were around
in -- I hope my memory is right on the date --
1957. People who were alive then sometimes
already have some degree of immunity due to
that past exposure. Others may have some
immunity due to exposure in a more recent year.
When there is some immunity the person might
not become outwardly ill or perhaps only slightly so.
It does not matter that there are no GI symptoms.
Influenzas are all primarily respiratory illnesses.
Some individuals might get symptoms elsewhere
such as GI ones, but illnesses that are just GI and
not respiratory are not influenza, but will be something
else such as food poisoning, or a different virus, or...
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