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Outbreak of canine distemper in domestic ferrets (Mustela putorius furo)
  1. D. Perpiñán, DVM, MSc1,
  2. A. Ramis, DVM, PhD, DECVP2,
  3. A. Tomás, DVM, PhD3,
  4. E. Carpintero, DVM1 and
  5. F. Bargalló, DVM4
  1. 1 Maragall Exotics Centre Veterinari, Xiprer 53, 08041 Barcelona, Spain
  2. 2 Department de Medicina in Circurgia Animals
  3. 3 Servei Veterinari de Genètica Molecular, Facultat de Veterinària, Universitat Autònama de Barcelona, Bellaterra 08193, Barcelona, Spain
  4. 4 Hospital Zoològic Badalona SL, Conquista 74, Badalona 08912, Barcelona, Spain
  1. Dr Perpiñán's present address is Department of Small Animal Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA

Abstract

In 2006 an outbreak of canine distemper affected 14 young domestic ferrets in Barcelona, Spain. Their clinical signs included a reduced appetite, lethargy, dyspnoea, coughing, sneezing, mucopurulent ocular and nasal discharges, facial and perineal dermatitis, diarrhoea, splenomegaly and fever. Late in the course of the disease, general desquamation and pruritus, and hyperkeratotic/crusting dermatitis of the lips, eyes, nose, footpads, and perineal area were observed. None of the ferrets developed neurological signs. Non-regenerative anaemia and high serum concentrations of α- and β-globulins were the most common laboratory findings. Most of the animals died or were euthanased because of respiratory complications. Postmortem there were no signs of lung collapse. Distemper was diagnosed by direct immunofluorescence of conjunctival swabs or pcr of several organs, and histology revealed the characteristic eosinophilic intracytoplasmic and intranuclear inclusion bodies of canine distemper virus in several organs. The minimum incubation periods calculated for six of the ferrets were 11 to 56 days, and in 13 of the ferrets the signs of disease lasted 14 to 34 days. Inclusion bodies compatible with infection by herpesvirus were found in the lungs of one of the ferrets.

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