Exotis ISSN 2398-2985

Ferrets

Epizootic cattarhal enteritis

Synonym(s): ECE, Enteric coronavirus infection, FRECV, Green slime disease

Contributor(s): Cathy Johnson-Delaney, David Perpinan

Introduction

  • Reduction in severity of disease has been observed over the last years, although morbidity is high.
  • Cause: highly contagious diarrheal disease of ferrets caused by ferret enteric coronavirus (FRECV).
  • Signs: foul smelling diarrhea, dehydration, anorexia, hyporexia, lethargy, weight loss, vomiting.
  • Diagnosis: laboratory testing, radiography, ultrasonography, biopsy.
  • Treatment: aimed at controlling secondary bacterial infections, inflammation and discomfort; supportive care, including aggressive fluid therapy and nutrition.
  • Prognosis:  good for resolution in most ferrets; poor if ferret has maldigestion/malabsorption/ significant weight loss.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Ferret enteric coronavirus (FRECV), a group I coronavirus.
  • Ferret systemic coronavirus (FRSCV) is considered to be a mutation of FRECV within a ferret’s body.

Pathophysiology

  • Original described in the 1990’s as a highly contagious diarrheal disease affecting sometimes 100% of ferrets, particularly in situations of high density and close contact between animals (shelter, breeding facility, household).
  • It was considered of high morbidity, with reports of mortality listed as fairly low, although in the author’s experience, many ferrets will succumb without supportive care.
  • The disease is considered enzootic due to commercial production of ferrets for the pet trade. Clinical signs are often seen by pet trade distributors during the first few days following shipment, and less likely by individual pet owners.
  • The coronavirus causes destruction of enteric villi leading to maldigestion and malabsorption.
  • The virus is shed in feces and saliva.
  • Transmission is fecal-oral route.  
  • Shedding can be intermittent.
  • Re-infection may play a significant role in maintaining infection in large ferret populations.
  • Ferrets can reactivate excretion of the virus after a stressful situation, at any age.

Timecourse

  • Clinical signs may last a few days to up to 6 weeks, often intermittent.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Murray J, Kiupel M & Maes R K (2010) Ferret coronavirus-associated diseases. Vet Clin North Am Exotic Anim Pract 13 (3), 543-560 PubMed.
  • Perpiñán D & López C (2008) Clinical aspects of systemic granulomatous inflammatory síndrome in ferrets (Mustela putorius furo). Vet Rec 162 (6), 180-184 PubMed.
  • Lennox A M (2005) Gastrointestinal diseases of the ferret. Vet Clin North Am Exotic Anim Pract 8 (2), 213-225 PubMed.
  • Williams B H, Kiupel M et al (2000) Coronavirus-associated epizootic catarrhal enteritis in ferrets. J Am Vet Med Assoc 217 (4), 526-530 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  •  Perpinan D & Johnson-Delaney C A (2017) Disorders of the Digestive System and Liver. In: Ferret Medicine and Surgery. Ed: Johnson-Delaney C A. CRC Press, USA. pp 159-190.
  • Kiupel M & Perpiñán D (2014) Viral Diseases of Ferrets. In: Biology and Diseases of the Ferret. 3rd edn. Eds: Fox J G & Marini R P. Wiley & Sons, Ames, USA. pp 439-517.
  • Maurer K J & Fox J G (2014) Diseases of the Gastrointestinal System. In: Biology and Diseases of the Ferret. 3rd edn. Eds: Fox J G & Marini R P. Wiley & Sons, Ames, USA. pp 363-375.
  • Hoefer H L, Fox J G & Bell J A (2012) Gastrointestinal Diseases. In: Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents. 3rd edn. Eds: Quesenberry K E & Carpenter J W. Elsevier, St. Louis, USA. pp: 27-45.
  • Burgess M E (2007) Ferret Gastrointestinal and Hepatic Diseases. In: Ferret Husbandry, Medicine and Surgery. 2nd edn. Saunders, Philadelphia, USA. pp 203-223.


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