A fatal disease identical to the dry form of FIP is increasing in incidence among pet ferrets worldwide.

A fatal disease identical to the dry form of FIP is increasing in incidence among pet ferrets worldwide.

A dry form of disease analogous to dry FIP is becoming increasingly more common in pet ferrets in North America, Europe and Asia. It is referred to as ferret infectious peritonitis (FIP), which is confusing because FIP is the term used for the cat disease. It is caused by a ferret specific coronavirus and the way the virus mutates and causes disease is extremely similar to what occurs with FIP.  There are several strains of enteric coronavirus in ferrets and some are much more likely to cause severe attacks of diarrhea (uncommon in cats) than others. Some strains may also be more likely to cause the systemic disease than others, which is also different than the situation in cats.  I explain the ferret disease both in my 1963-2008 synopsis of FIP and in even more detail in my 2009-2013 FIP literature update.  Both can be found at: http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/ccah/health_information/fip1.cfm.  I suspect that pet ferret owners are only seeing the front edge of this disease and that it will become more common with time as the of breeding and keeping ferrets as pets becomes increasingly more popular. The ferret disease is following the pattern of FIP, which first appeared in 1963 and has increased in incidence since that time. –Dr. Pedersen

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