Canine distemper virus

Danger! Canine distemper virus (CDV)

Vaccinate ferrets against CD every year!

CD is a contagious disease that affects ferrets, dogs, foxes, skunks, raccoons, possibly exotic cats and other animals.

Ferrets will be exposed to CDV if they come in contact with an infected animal, or it's body fluids. Also, you can bring CDV home on your shoes and clothes, if you have gone to woods, a pet store, a shelter, or a park.

There is no treatment for CD. A ferret will be dead within a few days of contacting the virus. Survival rate is less than 1%.

Infected ferrets have to be treated with antibiotics, supportive fluids and assisted feeding. Recovered ferrets may have permanent changes in behavior, dice significantly if the brain is affected.

CD does not affect humans.

Ferrets have been known to contract CD after receiving vaccines for CDV that are not approved for ferrets.

No matter what species of patient, what infectious disease, or what kind of vaccine, not all patients will be protected against exposure after vaccination. So called “vaccine failures” can occur for a number or reasons. Some reasons for vaccine failure in ferrets include:
  • The ferret’s immune system does not respond properly to the vaccine for genetic, medical or other reasons and the appropriate level of protective antibodies does not develop.
  • The vaccine was damaged by being stored improperly (either too cold or too warm).
  • The vaccine was reconstituted too long before its use. Vaccines have to be refrigerated up to shortly before use and used within 30 minutes of reconstituting. Beyond 30 minutes, the vaccine may lose its effectiveness.
  • An inappropriate vaccine for ferrets was used. There have been reported cases where CD was caused in ferrets by the use of an inappropriate vaccine.
  • It may take several days for the immunity to develop after a vaccination. For instance, if a ferret was vaccinated on day one and was exposed to the CDV on day 2 or 3, then he/she would not likely be protected from CD.
  • In addition, baby ferrets need to have a series of vaccinations starting at 6 to 8 weeks and ending with one after 14 weeks of age to ensure immunity for one full year.
  • Adult ferrets that have never had any distemper vaccinations in their lives need to initially have a series of two vaccinations two to three weeks apart to develop a strong immunity for a year.

Vaccine Reactions
Unfortunately anaphylactic (allergic) reactions to CDV vaccine are seen with all available vaccines. Reactions can also occur with rabies vaccinations, but are less common. The following statements underscore what we do and do not know about ferret distemper vaccine reactions.
Reactions occur in approximately 2 to 5% cases.

Vaccinate your ferret against canine distemper every year to keep him safe.


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