Mycoplasmosis in Ferrets - - Emerging Infectious Disease journal - CDC
Mycoplasmosis in Ferrets
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The number of pet ferrets in the United States has grown rapidly, from an estimated 800,000 in 1996 (1) to an estimated 7–10 million in 2007 (2). Also in the United States, ferrets have become the third most common household pet; their popularity as a pet in Europe is similar (3). The common respiratory diseases in pet ferrets are caused by viruses; canine distemper is probably the most virulent (4). Ferrets also are highly susceptible to human influenza virus, but disease is rarely severe (5,6). Bacteria rarely cause disease outbreaks in ferret populations, but they do cause disease in individual ferrets (7–9).
AbstractWe report an outbreak of severe respiratory disease associated with a novel Mycoplasma species in ferrets. During 2009–2012, a respiratory disease characterized by nonproductive coughing affected ≈8,000 ferrets, 6–8 weeks of age, which had been imported from a breeding facility in Canada. Almost 95% became ill, but almost none died. Treatments temporarily decreased all clinical signs except cough. Postmortem examinations of euthanized ferrets revealed bronchointerstitial pneumonia with prominent hyperplasia of bronchiole-associated lymphoid tissue. Immunohistochemical analysis with polyclonal antibody against Mycoplasma bovis demonstrated intense staining along the bronchiolar brush border. Bronchoalveolar lavage samples from 12 affected ferrets yielded fast-growing, glucose-fermenting mycoplasmas. Nucleic acid sequence analysis of PCR-derived amplicons from portions of the 16S rDNA and RNA polymerase B genes failed to identify the mycoplasmas but showed that they were most similar to M. molare and M. lagogenitalium. These findings indicate a causal association between the novel Mycoplasma species and the newly recognized pulmonary disease.
In 2007, in the state of Washington, USA, an outbreak of respiratory disease characterized by a dry, nonproductive cough was observed in 6- to 8-week-old ferrets at a US distribution center of a commercial pet vendor (Video). Over a 4-year period, ≈8,000 ferrets, equal numbers of both sexes, were affected. Every 2–3 weeks, kits had been shipped in groups of 150–200 from a commercial breeding facility in Canada to the distribution center. At 5 weeks of age, before shipment to the distribution center, each kit received a single vaccination for distemper (DISTEM R-TC; Schering Plough, Kenilworth, NJ, USA).