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Iam MD 1 have a patient have 3 ferret he was in hospital 1...

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Question by Gregorio Benitez MD (mexico)
Submitted on 8/7/2003
Related FAQ: Ferret FAQ [3/5] - Training and Behavior
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Iam MD 1 have a patient have 3 ferret he was in hospital 1 week for fiver diharrea y the laboratorie test resul LEPTOSPORA positive (urine and Blood) I suspicious he was infecteted by ferretīs urie or heses.Do you know cases or information ? thanks Gregorio Benitez Internal Medicin & gastroenterology gregobnz@hotmail.com

Answer by sukie crandall
Submitted on 8/17/2003
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Although I am not a veterinarian I think you will find the work of Dr. Bruce Williams, a veterinary pathologist whose expertise in ferret is excellent to be very useful.  His website and consultation information can be located at http://www.afip.org/ferrets/index.html.  

According to two veterinary texts I have here ferrets have on rare occasion been found to contract to contract Leptospirosis if they have been used to hunt rats, a finding similar to that seen in dogs.  They might possibly be able to contract it by inhalation of rodent contaminants.  In most of the New World ferrets are not used for hunting purposes.  Of course, if they have been used for hunting then it may also be that their owner had direct contact with rats or rodent wastes himself.

I will refer you to the following texts:  _Biology and Disease of the Ferret_ second edition by James Fox of the Dept, of Comparative Medicine of MIT, pages 342 and 343 where among other pieces of information it is pointed out that is not known if ferrets are able to transmit this disease, and that the organism may be isolated from dust, animal feed, water, soil, and an assortment of wild and domestic animals. There are even known asymptomatic fecal carriers among humans.  Treatment for infected ferrets would include broad spectrum antibiotics such as penicillin, ampicillin, as well as others.

This is a rare enough problem that two of my other ferret veterinary texts do not even list it, but John Lewington's _Ferret Husbandry, Medicine and Surgery_ is written more for working ferrets and since ferrets are used in conjunction with terriers for removing rats in some parts if the world he discusses the disease on page 117, mentioning that ferrets do seem to have a natural resistance to it though they are able to at times contract Leptospirosis.  By the way, the working dogs also fell prey to the disease.

So, while it is possible it is not likely, though you could ask a vet to test the ferrets without harming them to be sure, and to then treat them if it is present on the chance that they might be able to transmit it, though that also is uncertain.  It would be a terrible shame to lose marvelous domestic companion animals on the slight chance that they are infected, especially when the loss would be an emotional burden to an already ill patient.

i suspect that you'll find that your patient was unknowingly exposed to infection from a rodent instead.


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