Date: 2011-02-18 20:03:12 UTC
Subject: [ferrethealth] Re: Confirmed H1N1 in Ferrets
I am so sorry to hear what your friend is going through.
Last winter 2009-2010 there were several cases of H1N1 in our area i.e., Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. I alerted my vet to be on the watch for H1N1 in ferrets. Sure enough three ferrets became infected when their owner tested positive for H1N1 in late November. Their samples were processed by the human pathology lab for expediency and H1N1 was confirmed in the ferrets. Because my vet was on the alert for H1N1 the ferrets were put on Tamiflu and Amoxicillin for secondary infection immediately. All three recovered.
In January 2010 two of my ferrets started showing similar symptoms. I took them into the vet and had nasal swabs taken and sent off for testing. Although I had been vaccinated for H1N1 and none of the ferrets had been in contact with anyone except for personnel at the veterinary clinic, who were also vaccinated, I had it in my household!
We managed to trace the infection to a kit I had acquired from the local pet store in December, who was the most likely carrier. He had a clear runny nose when I got him but the vet felt it was a mild virus because he wasn't really ill, appetite normal, activity level normal, just mild sniffles.
We speculated someone, either retail staff or a potential customer with H1N1 had handled the kits and infected them. I contacted the manager of the pet store and advised him not to let people who showed signs of flu or even coldlike symptoms to handle the kits he had in the store.
All 15 of my ferrets were immediately put on Tamiflu while the more immuno-compromised were put on Amoxicillin as a precaution. It was a rough 3 weeks, the sicker ones had to be hand-fed, etc. Thankfully I didn't lose any. None of mine displayed GI symptoms only respiratory, which ranged from the mild sniffles like the kit displayed to a croupy cough the sickest one developed.
This year our provincial department of health made the seasonal flu vaccination, plus H1N1 available for free to the entire population. Unfortunately, not everyone took advantage of it but reported cases are considerably less than last year.... and so far no cases reported in animal companions.
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