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Ferrets are susceptible to infection by all of the human influenza viruses. The infection may be passed human to ferret, ferret to human, and ferret to ferret. Influenza spreads to and from ferrets the same way it does in people, that is, by contact with infected respiratory secretions. It is usually a mild, self-limiting illness, lasting 7 to 14 days.
- watery eyes
- nasal discharge
- short-term lethargy and loss of appetite
- very uncommonly hearing loss and/or mild digestive problems
- in very young and very old ferrets pneumonia is possible, resulting in more severe illness and possibly death
We usually base our diagnosis on the patient's history and exam. Laboratory and other testing is usually not necessary.
Influenza in ferrets is almost always self-limiting - they will recover with time, typically 7 to 14 days. Occasionally supportive care with injectable fluids and syringe feeding are needed.
We often treat very young and very old ferrets with antibiotics. These ferrets also sometimes need hospitalization for more intensive care.
The vast majority of ferrets recover within 1 to 2 weeks.
If you have the flu, do not handle your ferret.
Yarmouth Veterinary Center
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