Message Number: FHL14398 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Sukie Crandall
Date: 2011-12-02 16:01:33 UTC
Subject: [ferrethealth] abstract: coccidia

The other coccidia genus often seen in ferrets is Isopora and too many vets and pathologists still only look for one of those genera despite the two being very different sizes and needing different magnification. Multiple species within these genera infect ferrets and some are far, far worse than others. There have been shelters which have lost a very large proportion of their ferrets in past years to a rampaging bloody diarrhea which was caused by species of the worst forms of coccidia ferrets can get.

Notice that this is apiece of work involving TWO people who have been mentioned here often because of all that they do for ferrets:
Dr Ruth Heller who is one of the FHL moderators and an FHL veterinary star.
Dr. Matti Kiupel of the Michigan State Ferret Health Advancement group which has done so much to help ferrets and wants to continue to do so as funds allow. See the fourth address in my signature lines to get to their very helpful website. Notice in the publications section there that another FHL veterinary star, Dr. Jerry Murray, has also worked with Dr. Kiupel, and that one of the original FHL moderators, Dr. Bruce Williams also has done so.

J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2011 Dec 15;239(12):1584-8.
Outbreaks of severe enteric disease associated with Eimeria furonis infection in ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) of 3 densely populated groups.
Sledge DG, Bolin SR, Lim A, Kaloustian LL, Heller RL, Carmona FM, Kiupel M.
Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health, Michigan State University, Lansing, MI 48910.
Case Description-3 unrelated, densely populated, dynamic ferret populations with severe outbreaks of enteric coccidiosis were evaluated. Clinical Findings-In each outbreak, morbidity rate was high, there were an appreciable number of deaths, and ferrets of all ages were affected. Affected individuals had acute onset of diarrhea, and feces often contained frank or digested blood. Other clinical signs included dehydration, weakness, lethargy, and weight loss. Fecal examinations of affected ferrets revealed sporadic and inconsistent shedding of coccidial oocysts. Necropsy findings included moderate to marked atrophic enteritis associated with numerous intraepithelial and fewer extracellular coccidial life stages. Sporulated oocysts isolated from feces were consistent with Eimeria furonis. A PCR assay was performed on formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded sections of intestine for the gene encoding the small subunit of rRNA yielded products with sequences identical to those described for E furonis. Treatment and Outcome-Supportive care and treatment with sulfadimethoxine over the course of these outbreaks was palliative, but long-term treatment was required and failed to completely eradicate infection as identified by the subsequent finding of oocysts in fecal samples. Clinical Relevance-Enteric coccidiosis due to infection with E furonis has typically been reported to be subclinical rather than to cause severe gastrointestinal disease in ferrets. This report indicated that infection with E furonis may have contributed to severe enteric disease with high morbidity and mortality rates in 3 densely populated, dynamic groups of ferrets. Furthermore, long-term treatment with anti-coccidials may be required in outbreak situations, but may be ineffectual in completely eradicating infection.

PMID: 22129123 [PubMed - in process]

There is a lot more on coccidia types and finding and treating them in the FHL (Ferret Health List) Archives which is the second URL in my signature lines. It is knowledge that can help people save their ferrets.

The first known truly severe (often fatal) form of coccidia looked at in ferrets was apparently originally reported on the FML (Ferret Mailing List) long enough ago that I am not sure if it is among the archives. Dr. Bruce Williams found the cause back then. The outbreak lead to an A List of treating veterinarians of which I was the silent moderator and to tracing the origin (a closed Long Island location) from which it had spread (shelters that had taken the ferrets from that location and adopters), getting veterinary advice out there (which turned out to be isolate locations, isolate locations, isolate locations, and use treatments like Albon for a much longer time than usual since that particular strain of coccidia was very hardy and infected something like 25% to 30% of exposed animals but killed every ferret who got it), and also separated out some similar reports that had different causes in different locations and some dissimilar reports with different causes in different locations. That outbreak was successfully contained and killed off back then and it was many years before such a severe outbreak again appeared. Then a severe form of coccidia again first showed up in shelters but that time multiple shelters refused to close their doors till it was contained and treat, so a great many shelters wound up involved before that logical action became the response because there were ferrets moving among shelters again. Similar outbreaks have obviously happened in shelters since that time, too, so always remember to close doors to incoming or outgoing during treatment in such locations until the shelter is definitely safe again when serious contagions of any type are present, and always remember to have multiple fecal samples on a number of multiple days checked for both sizes of coccidia that ferrets get.

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)
On change for its own sake: "You can go really fast if you just jump off the cliff."
(2010, Steve Crandall)

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


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