Archive for October, 2013

Ferrets and the Seasonal Flu

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Flu Sea­son is around the cor­ner if not already start­ing to rear its ugly head in some regions. This is not only a med­ical con­cern for peo­ple and their fam­i­lies but also for fer­rets that may reside in the homes. The human influenza strains can trans­mit to fer­rets and fer­rets can trans­mit the infec­tion back to humans. How­ever, there are cur­rently no pro­phy­lac­tic flu vac­cines for fer­rets so the best way to keep them safe is to vac­ci­nate the humans in the house­hold. If some­one sus­pects they have the flu, they should avoid close con­tact and han­dling the fer­rets until they are no longer contagious.

Com­mon signs of influenza in fer­rets include:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Sneez­ing
  • Decreased appetite
  • Puru­lent eye and nasal discharge

If you sus­pect your fer­ret has been exposed to the flu or may be infected, con­tact your vet­eri­nar­ian. Fer­rets can be tested for influenza to con­firm a diag­no­sis or a pre­sump­tive diag­no­sis can be made based on symp­toms. Treat­ment includes sup­port­ive care such as assist feed­ing and fluid sup­port as well as antibi­otics for sec­ondary bac­te­r­ial infec­tions. If the infec­tion is caught early on, antivi­rals may be an option as well. How­ever, due to the sever­ity of the ill­ness and lim­ited treat­ment options, pre­ven­tion of trans­mis­sion is key.