Early in 1999 a very good friend of mine bought two kits from me. My placing standards are rigid and she overqualified. This friend would often come
here and stay overnight with her ferrets, for shows. When this ADV situation came to light, many of us started testing. My friend did as well. All ferrets
tested were negative.
My friend takes in rescues. One of my points was that for a $12 test, you may be saving yourself a lot of grief and money in the long run. My friend
agreed, but the heartstrings would tug and caution would go to the wind. It was making me very nervous. This led to us having several "discussions"
on the subject. Each rescue was a different set of circumstances, with a different reasoning on my friend's part.
Some of these reasons:
1. had gotten ferrets from this particular person/pet store before, that tested neg.
2. After rescuing etc. they were very healthy looking.
3. They had been to the vet for adrenal or other surgery so they would know.
4. the person they were aquired from had them since kits and did not show or take
them any place with other ferrets.
5. I tested before and they were neg.
6. It is not in my area, I am too far removed from it.
I decided to wait a couple of months until breeding/showing season started and then test ferrets again. I particularly wanted to test those that had
been in close proximity with my friend's, those that were to be shown and those that I wanted to breed. Another breeder that was using one of my
hobs tested also. We were negative and posted the results. Unknown to us at the time, my friend was testing also. When I got a message asking me
to call it was important, I did not think much of it. I work in a veterinary hospital, and we often discussed sick ferrets. I was totally unprepared for this
ferrets had been tested and a weak positive was found. Now ALL the ferrets had to be tested at a cost of several hundred dollars. There were 8 more
positives, which now included the two from here. I cannot even describe the feeling of devastation. If any of the above are reasons you have given
yourself, think again.
Owning a pet is a privledge not a necessity. Showing and/or breeding pets is a luxury. Both are a responsibility. If you plan on taking your pets around
others, you have the responsibility of making sure that they do not have anything that could risk the health of others. You have a responsibility to your
own pet to do all you possibly can to make sure it does not contract anything. If you can afford to show.....that means proper vaccinations, sometimes
teeth scaling, show entries, hotel room, meals, GAS, spending money, time off work.........surely you could afford $10 per ferret to assure it's safety as
well as the safety of others. I don't see how you can afford not to. Compared to the cost of veterinary care should they become sick, $10-12 is relatively
minor. Whether done at home or at the show, should it be mandatory? Yes! It should have been years ago and we might not be having this discussion.
I may be wrong but I
don't know of any disease that has just "gone away" without some help, ie:
cure or eradicating the cause.
Why mandatory testing?
Several years ago, when the ECE epidemic was sweeping the East Coast, my ferrets were hit with it. We came home from a show and exactly 4 days
later it started. Two were days away from dying when I decided to experiment with Tylan. Thank God, it worked. We started using this at our hospital.
A client came in with two ferrets with ECE. She was warned not to allow her ferrets near others. She said the ferrets were pets and never went out.
The tylan worked , and the ferrets recovered. Imagine my shock when I went to the show and saw this client wandering through the show with her
daughter and the two ferrets, less than two weeks after being in our office with ECE. She had seen a poster on our bulletin board and decided to check
it out. One ferret was hanging over her shoulder nose to nose with another ferret. The other was running around on the floor on a leash they had
bought at the show. I went over and explained that she had to
take the ferrets home and why. She just assumed that since the diarrhea had stopped they were no longer contagious. I never gave the poster a
thought, or that she might take her ferrets and decide to go to the show....... This was compeletely naive on her part, outwardly the ferrets looked
healthy, but still a danger to all there. At this same show I saw a sign.....kits for sale, ECE free..........
As hard is it is for people connected to the internet to imagine there are
people out there without computers. We take the number of lists and other
information resources for granted. There are many people out there that still do not know about ADV, including vets. Still others who have nothing to
go on but rumors. Shows are not only fun, but are a necessary tool if we hope to educate people and raise funds. We DO need to have research done
on how it is spread so that we can end all the speculation and move on to finding a cure. But to do this we need money.
Many people think it will never affect them so why bother? I am sure that is what people thought years ago, and so here we are. No one was seeing
How do we know that for sure?
How many vets were truly interested in ferrets?
How many unexplained deaths were necropsied and tested for ADV?
How many ferrets that died of the "usual" ferret diseases were necropsied and also tested for ADV?
There has been much speculation recently as to why ferrets seem less healthy today than years ago. Why there is more suseptability to disease, and
shorter lifespans... Genetics? Environmental? Diet? Husbandry? What if it was the introduction of ADV? Over the years could it have caused gradual
weakening of the immune system? As with AIDS, it is not the disease itself which kills, but other diseases the body can no longer fight off.
No test is 100%, or a GUARANTEE of safety, but then neither is any vaccine. More like 92%, I think. Should we stop requiring distemper vaccinations?
Or rabies? ADV is a silent killer that can be spread by perfectly healthy looking ferrets and the only way to determine if a ferret is positive is by testing.
Not by how it looks, or where you got it, or who it may or may not have been around. The testing is the only tool we have right now to try make shows
as safe as possible.