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ADV in ferret

ADV in Ferrets

Aleutian Disease in ferrets has become an increasing problem, affecting overall ferret health.

The Aleutian Disease Virus in ferrets (ADV) is a type of parvovirus, which gets its name from a strain of minks, as the virus was first detected in them. Therefore, Aleutian Disease is also known as Aleutian Mink Disease. Aleutian disease can be described as a “wasting disease”, because it leads to chronic weight loss, weakness, spinal cord damage and eventually, paralysis.

Through the virus elicits a strong immune response from the ferret, the antibodies produced in response, don’t neutralize the virus. At times these antibodies, which are produced in huge amounts, form complexes, which get deposited in the tissues and lead to inflammation, which eventually aggravates the disease. Moreover, certain types of immune system cells like lymphocytes and plasmacytes get accumulated in the tissues.

Therefore, the symptoms are actually caused by the ferret’s immune response to the virus. While Aleutian disease does not really cause any direct harm, it depresses the ferret’s immune system in such a way, that the animal becomes susceptible to a number of other diseases. The organs that it usually affects are the liver & the kidneys. Even a vaccination could elicit a similar response, worsening the condition. Therefore, there is no effective prevention guideline, treatment of vaccination for the condition caused by the ADV in ferrets. Therapy may control the symptoms, thereby prolonging the ferret’s life.

Since there are different strains of ADV, it is believed that each strain may differ in the severity of the disease they cause. This disease can be can be transmitted directly, through saliva, urine, feces or blood. It can also be passed on from a mother-ferret to the kits. It is also possible for the disease to be transmitted by air. The Aleutian Disease Virus in ferrets can survive in the environment, for a long period of time. Because this disease is fairly common, ferrets can suffer from it for a while, before showing any symptoms. However, during this time, they are still capable of transmitting the disease to others. That is why the infected animals become carriers and a source of infection, as they can transfer it to other ferrets easily. Some symptoms of this disease are – weight loss, weakness, lethargy, tremors and tarry stools. The diagnosis of this disease can be a little difficult and usually requires various tests to be performed on the ferret.

  Submitted on May 12, 2010