Exotis ISSN 2398-2985

Ferrets

Rabies

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

Introduction

  • Uncommon, but of public health concern in the USA and other countries.
  • The virus occurs worldwide except in Australia, New Zealand, UK, Hawaii, Japan and parts of Scandinavia.
  • May be transmitted to ferrets from dogs, cats, raccoons, foxes, polecats, other land mammals and bats.
  • Ferrets housed outdoors may be at risk of exposure.
  • Cause: rabies virus transmitted via saliva from a bite wound.
  • Signs: posterior paresis/paralysis, paresthesia, anxiety, behavioural changes.
  • Diagnosis: history and clinical signs.
  • Treatment: vaccination.
  • Prognosis: fair.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • The most common exposure is from a bite as the virus is primarily transmitted by saliva.
  • It has been shown experimentally to have an incubation period of 28-33 days with death ensuing in 4-5 days in ferrets.

Predisposing factors

General

  • Ferrets are only moderately susceptible to raccoon and skunk strains of rabies virus.

Pathophysiology

  • Transmitted almost exclusively through bites of a rabid animal.
  • Travels in the axons to the CNS, where it exerts its effects.

Timecourse

  • Incubation may last from 20-90 days.
  • Generally, about 4-5 weeks.

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.
  • Hamir A N, Niezgoda M & Rupprecht C E (2011) Recovery from and clearance of rabies virus in a domestic ferret. J Am Assoc  Lab Anim Sci 50 (2), 248-251 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • 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 Blackwell, USA. pp 439-517.
  • Lewis W (2009) Ferrets: Nervous and Musculoskeletal Disorders. In: BSAVA Manual of Rodents and Ferrets. Eds: Keeble E & Meredith A. BSAVA, Quedgely, UK. pp 303-310.


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