Today's Veterinary Practice

MAR-APR 2018

Today's Veterinary Practice provides comprehensive information to keep every small animal practitioner up to date on companion animal medicine and surgery as well as practice building and management.

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71 MARCH/APRIL 2018 ● TVPJOURNAL.COM INSIGHTS CLINICAL CLINICAL INSIGHTS Distemper is an acute viral infectious disease with reported mortality rates in ferrets of 100%. 1–5 Prevalence depends on the area, recent outbreaks have been documented in multiple countries. 1,4 Since the invention of a vaccine against canine distemper virus (CDV) in the 1960s, the disease became uncommon in industrialized countries. 1 Multiple different CDV vaccines have been used to prevent infections of distemper in ferrets since 1938. 2 Currently there aren't any studies available on the prevalence of distemper in the pet ferret population in the United States. If a patient is presented with neurological, gastrointestinal and respiratory signs distemper should be considered as a differential diagnosis. 1 Early recognition and preventative vaccination are therefore imperative. No approved vaccine for ferrets was available in the U.S. market for a few years; therefore, some ferrets might not be up to date with their vaccination. CDV has a wide host range 6 and unmonitored infections of the wildlife population are a potential threat to the pet ferret population ( FIGURE 1 ). BACKGROUND Distemper is caused by a morbillivirus of the family Paramyxoviridae. 6 The CDV has high mortality and morbidity and has been reported in dogs since its first description in the 17th century. 7 Henri Carré first isolated the canine distemper virus in 1905. 3 Slanetz and Smetana first reported an infection in a group of ferrets in 1937. 2 Families of terrestrial carnivores are commonly affected, and members of the Canidae, Felidae, Hyaenidae, Mustelidae, Procyonidae, Ursidae, and Viverridae families have been reported to be infected with the virus. 3 Although there are about nine different viruses in the Morbillivirus genus—measles virus, rinderpest Ferret Distemper: What You Need to Know Leonie Kondert, DVM Joerg Mayer, DVM, MS, DABVP, DACZM University of Georgia FOCUS ON FIGURE 1. An outbreak of distemper in a ferret colony. Young animals are more susceptible than adults. Nonimmunized ferrets are at risk for disease if exposed to CDV-infected dogs or wild carnivores. Photo courtesy of Dr. Jeff Baier

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