A friend was sent this and she passed it on to me. I want to pass this on for anyone who has RC ferrets. Very important to read.
Subject: Re: Real Canadian Ferrets Date: Sat, 7 Aug 2010 20:54:22 -0300
Dr. Jerry Murray has contacted me to say that it has been confirmed that Real Canadian Ferrets are the source of a new mycoplasmic respiratory infection caused by a bacterium. The findings were presented to an international audience at the Exotics conference in San Diego, CA this past week.
My understanding is that the head veterinarian for the Manitoba SPCA has been made aware of the situation and an investigation will be conducted.
If you get Real Canadian Ferrets, please alert your veterinarian and isolate them because this bug is highly infectious and causes a hacking cough.
There is a recent article describing the research that is being done at University of Massachusetts by Matti Kiupel in the current issue of Ferrets Magazine on this disease:
I had my friend email Tressie,to find out how to test for this. My big boy Koby who will be 4 in Oct. has coughing episodes about 2-3 times a year. When he was about 3 mths old it started lasted for a few weeks off and on. It was a horrible hack. The vet could find nothing wrong. He'll then go for months without incident,it doesn't seem to slow him down at all. Anyways here's the response from Tressie:
From: Tressie Dutchyn <email@example.com> Subject: RE: Mycoplasmic respiratory infection To: "Lynne Fink" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Received: Wednesday, August 11, 2010, 3:08 PM
I wrote to Dr. Kiupel and asked him that very question, this was his reply:
ask your vet to do a bronchialveolar lavage and submit it to us for culture for mycoplasma, we have good results with this, treatment and behavior is similar to what has been described with M. pulmonis in mice, so long term antibiotics (doxoxyclins etc.) seem indicated, but this is all based on experience of one vet
Dr. med. vet. Matti Kiupel, BS, MS, PhD, DACVP Fachtierarzt für Veterinär Pathologie Associate Professor, Section Chief Anatomic Pathology Michigan State University Department of Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health 4125 Beaumont Road, Room 152A Lansing, MI 48910 USA
Tel.: ** 517 432 2670 Fax.: ** 517 432 6557
Now I discussed this with my vet because I have one ferret who's had a chronic hacking cough for two years and everything else has been ruled out (i.e., heart disease, etc.). She is NOT a RCF, however, was in an SPCA animal shelter for several months and may have picked it up there.
The test is difficult and invasive and best left to the experts, like a teaching veterinary hospital. My vet is not comfortable performing the test and has decided to go with the clinical symptoms and so I am waiting for the antibiotics to come in.
So I wrote to Dr. Jerry Murray and asked him what the treatment protocol for mycoplasmosis is and this was his reply:
Hi Tressie Yeah doxycycline at 10 mg/kg twice a day (They make a liquid version that if I remember right is cherry flavored and ferrets like it.) with Baytril 10 mg/kg 2 times a day for months. Cough suppressants, bronchodilators, and antiinflammatories (pred or Metacam) may help too. Hope that helps, Jerry
There you have it!
Warmest Regards, Tressie
T. A. Dutchyn, PhD (c) Research Project Coordinator Cannabis & Traffic Collisions Study Dalhousie University Community Health & Epidemiology Faculty of Medicine
Greetings. My name is Kevin Farlee. I'm the president of Washington Ferret Rescue & Shelter near Seattle WA. As it happens, my vet, Dr. Cathy Johnson-Delaney has been involved in the research on the mycoplasma. In fact, it was first isolated in a necropsy of my Kodie Since Dr. Cathy was president of the AEMV where the paper was presented, there's a good chance that she presented it.
In this area, Real Canadian Ferrets are common, as the distributor of small exotic animals for the northwest exclusively carried RCF ferrets until recently. So, our shelter sees lots of them.
The cough is really distinctive. It's a sharp hacking cough that comes in spells. In my experience, it is NOT highly contagious. None of my other 5 ferrets contracted it after living with Kodie for a year, and in our shelter, although we've had LOTS of ferrets from various breeders, we've never seen a ferret that wasn't from RCF have this issue. With over 90 ferrets in relatively close proximity, if it was that contagious, all of them would have it. I will ask Dr. Cathy when I see her on Saturday to see what she says.
The last theory I heard was that this disease is usually contracted when the kits are babies, before the immune system is mature.
We've never found anything that would completely get rid of it once they came down with it. Antibiotics will knock it down for awhile, but it comes back when you stop.
Kevin Farlee President Washington Ferret Rescue & Shelter
Just got back from the shelter. It was Dr. Cathy that gave the presentation, and in fact she let me read through the powerpoint that she used.
On contagiousness: It can be passed between ferrets, but typically when a ferret has a suppressed or undeveloped immune system, and is in very close proximity with a closed air system.
Like a breeder environment where you have lots of baby ferrets in a room with the adults which are infected.
So while it could be passed between adult ferrets, * It is far more likely to be passed when ferrets are babies * So far, it has ONLY been identified in ferrets from the Real Canadian Ferrets/CDC breeder. They have a single blue-green line tattoo in the right ear. They are only distributed in Eastern Canada, Japan, and until recently in the Northwest of the US (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska). They are no longer imported into the Northwest, as the distributor switched to Marshalls.