Exotis ISSN 2398-2985

Ferrets

Vaccination overview

Contributor(s): Sarah Brown, Jemma Hildrew

Introduction

  • Ferrets can contract canine distemper virus (CDV) and, although there are no licensed distemper vaccinations for ferrets in the UK, those licensed for dogs are often used ‘off license’.
  • In the USA, there is a licensed distemper vaccination for ferrets.
  • Rabies vaccination may be used in ferrets in endemic areas and is currently a requirement for ferrets travelling within the European Union under the UK Pet Travel Scheme.
  • There are licensed rabies vaccines available for ferrets in the UK.
  • Vaccination is considered an essential part of a healthcare program for domestic pets. However, for more ‘exotic’ pets, there are rarely licensed products available and often minimal evidence or clinical trials on which to base use of unlicensed products. As a result, vaccination should be performed on a risk-benefit basis with informed consent from the owner.
  • Careful consideration of the likely immunocompetence of the animal should be made prior to vaccination. This can be affected by poor health or nutritional status, concurrent drug treatment and stress. Only healthy animals should be vaccinated. Vaccination of pregnant or lactating females should be avoided unless the product is specifically tested in and licensed for pregnant animals.
  • In any population of animals, a small number of individuals may fail to respond to a vaccine so efficacy can never be guaranteed.
  • As for other species, the immunogenicity of vaccines can be compromised by poor storage or inappropriate administration. Vaccines should be stored at 2-8°C/35.6-46.4°F and protected from light in order to maintain efficacy.
  • Vaccines should be used within one hour of reconstitution (conversion from dry to liquid form) or discarded.
  • The skin should not be cleaned with disinfectants or spirit before injection. Contact with disinfectant agents can render the vaccine ineffective.
  • Most vaccines are designed for subcutaneous administration and are ineffective if given by other routes.

Canine distemper vaccination

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Rabies vaccination

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Adverse vaccination reactions

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Vaccination site fibrosarcomas

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Moor G E, Glickman N W, Ward M P et al (2005) Incidence of and risk factors for adverse events associated with distemper and rabies vaccine administration in ferrets. JAVMA 226 (6), 909-912 PubMed.
  • Greenacre C B (2003) Incidence of adverse events in ferrets vaccinated with distemper or rabies vaccine: 143 cases (1995-2001). JAVMA 223 (5), 663-665 PubMed.
  • Munday J S, Stedman N L & Richie L J (2003) Histology and immunohistochemistry of seven ferret vaccination-site fibrosarcomas. Vet Pathol 40, 288-293 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Perpiñán D (2014) Distemper Vaccination in Ferrets. In: Proc British Veterinary Zoological Society. BVZS, UK. pp 26-28.


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