This project is dedicated to White Russian's Mommy, Judy Gronwold,
who battles ADV every day of her life on all fronts.
Thank you for fighting for the ferrets Judy ...
thank you for fighting for all of us. You are truly a hero to me....
I must give a heartfelt thank you to Kat Parsons
for actually opening my eyes to the ever pressing dangers of ADV.
I don't think I'll ever forget the phone call from this gal
whom opened up the conversation with,
"So Wolfy, what are we going to do about this ADV thing?!"
She was invariably the voice I finally could no longer ignore.
|I am not an expert in animal pathology in any way. This is just
a summary introduction to ADV or Aleutians disease. This is my
perspective as the "average ferret owner" or "ever day Joe" on
ADV. I am very busy, and I like many people in this world am
spread very thin in my life. I admit to many things such as
skimming over any information on ADV because,
a) I thought it complicated, and had trouble finding straight talk about ADV, and
Should we panic over this disease? No we should not panic for many reasons. Panic breeds misinformation, ignorance and most of all hurt. An objective and active approach would lead to public awareness and education therefore perhaps prevention in the spread of this disease. We need to be concerned and proactive so we won't have a reason to panic in the future. If you panic over something you may also treat those that are affected and need support like Lepers in the past. And that act would be hideous.
AD began in the fifties in minks. Spontaneous cases began to be recorded around 1967 here in the U.S. in ferrets. It is thought that many mink farms also bred ferrets. It is probable that the disease mutated into a form that was able to be transferred to ferrets over time. It has spread unfortunately to Canada in the seventies. It appeared in New Zealand in the eighties. It has been reported in the U.K. this past decade. I personally never heard of ADV in ferrets until the late nineties. Many people have still never heard of it. It is important that we are aware of it, and take action to fight it so it is NOT the next AIDS.
ADV is a form of parvovirus. When a virus enters an animals system, the body reacts with making antibodies to bind to it so as to stop the disease from progressing. AD causes the animal to produce massive amounts of antibodies and such. These then get deposited in the internal organs, in incredible amounts. It is actually that process that produces symptoms in the animal.
ADV in ferrets shows up in various ways, symptoms ranging from no symptoms to severe. A common symptom is hind-end weakness or in more serious cases paralysis. But then that is the symptom for many disorders in ferrets. The main target organs that are affected are the kidneys, liver, and lungs.
Ok here is the kicker with this disease... when an animal gets a virus, most times the antibodies neutralize the virus. Why ferrets (and minks, et al) create such massive amounts of destructive immune defenses is because the antibodies made do not do this at all to the virus. They are ineffective. So the body keeps putting out more and more, and also the disease runs rampant. Obviously this greatly depresses the immune system. Frustrating isn't it?
ADV can be transmitted from mother to kit. It can be transmitted through bodily fluids of any sort (feces included). On one hand the thinking now is it takes a bit much to transmit it. But for safety, it is said that you should take many precautions. Parvocide can be used on floors and such since this virus is can live for a period of time surfaces. Washing clothes and taking showers and such things when in contact within an ADV infected home is a good idea. I personally am scared a bit of ADV and how it is spread. But I refuse to let irrational fear cloud that fact that there is no reason I should not be around and support those affected.
Now there is a test called the CIEP that can detect whether your ferret has been exposed to ADV. An even better test is the ELISA Test from Avecon Diagnostics, Inc.. It is a very sensitive and specific test that only detects antibody to the non-viron protein of ADV. But does the CIEP tell you if your ferret has ADV for instance? No not necessarily. But in any case it is believed that even an exposed ferret can transfer the disease. The tricky part here is a ferret can be in the first stages of the disease and be contagious for quite some time without anyone knowing it. There are some ferrets that may never come down with the full spectrum disease. A ferret can be exposed to ADV and have the antibodies for it, but never develop symptoms (but can still be contagious).
Here's the brutal truth.
That is why we have to be smart, and careful as far as preventing the spread of this disease. Education and public awareness is key in doing this. We must act now to help research so that a vaccine of sorts, or some sort of treatment can be created. To do that funds are needed, as well as research subjects (blood samples from ADV ferrets, etc).
What are ways we can help ADV in this country?
- We can start by reading this site and thinking about ADV and learning about it.