​Routine veterinary care for pet ferrets includes yearly vaccinations. It is currently recommended that all ferrets be vaccinated against two deadly and life-threatening diseases: canine distemper and rabies. The ferret vaccine products available are specific for ferrets and have undergone extensive laboratory testing to determine that they are effective in preventing both diseases. Unfortunately, some ferrets may have adverse reactions to either vaccine.

  • Canine Distemper

    • Canine distemper is caused by a virus. There are a variety of symptoms, usually starting with fever, appetite loss, clear nasal discharge, and a rash on the chin. As the virus progresses, infected ferrets typically develop severe eye inflammation (conjunctivitis) and dermatitis with red blotchy skin and thickened footpads. Within several weeks, distemper causes inflammation of the nervous system resulting in incoordination, convulsions, coma, and death.

    • Unfortunately, ferrets with canine distemper almost always die of the disease. Ferrets can acquire canine distemper from other animals sick with the disease. Since the virus can live for a short time in the environment or on clothing, ferret owners can potentially pick up the virus from infected animals and bring it home. Once exposed, unvaccinated ferrets typically begin showing signs of the disease within 7–10 days. Ferrets vaccinated against canine distemper with an approved vaccine are usually well protected against the virus.

  • Rabies

    • Rabies is caused by a virus and is transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. Rabies in ferrets is rare, as most ferrets are kept indoors where exposure to rabid animals is uncommon. However, accidental exposure may occur, and given that rabies is a serious cause of human illness and death, it is highly recommended that ferrets be protected against the virus.

    • Many communities require rabies vaccination of pet ferrets, along with dogs and cats. If an unvaccinated ferret bites a human, the health department is called in to make a determination of likely rabies involvement and, in some cases, may require that the ferret be killed and tested for rabies.

Why Purevax?

PUREVAX™ Ferret Distemper Vaccine

By Mary Van Dahm in The F.A.I.R. Report, Nov./Dec. 2001

 

Our patience and our letters have finally paid off. Merial has finished testing its new ferret distemper vaccine and has received USDA licensing for PUREVAX™

Currently PUREVAX ™ is only available through veterinarians since Merial does not sell vaccines directly to the public. PUREVAX™ is more expensive than Fervac-D, but hopefully, as production increases, unit costs will go down.

Personally I think it is worth the extra money to have peace of mind. The chance of your ferret having a reaction to the new vaccine is very low (only one mild stinging has been reported out of several thousand vaccines given so far.) Even ferrets that have had previous reactions to Fervac-D have not had any reactions to PUREVAX™ so far.

Owners of ferrets that have had reactions to Fervac-D may still want to have their ferret pre-treated with Benadryl the first time the ferret receives the new vaccine, and we still recommend that you stay in your veterinarian’s office for at least a half an hour after a vaccination just to be on the safe side. When multiple vaccinations are needed (such as distemper and rabies) we still recommend a 3 week interval between the vaccinations.

  • About the vaccine:

    • PUREVAX™ ferret distemper vaccine is a type 3 recombinant vectored vaccine. Recombinant technology eliminates the need to use the whole virus. This process prevents the virus from replicating in the ferret’s body and eliminates the possibility of the ferret accidentally contracting distemper from the vaccine.

    • PUREVAX™ contains DNA sequence for two protective antigens: HA (hemagglutinin); F (fusion membrane protein).

    • PUREVAX™ does not pose the risk of post-vaccinal encephalitis.

    • PUREVAX™ has not shown indications of transient immunosuppression. (It does not supress the immune system after innoculation.)

If you have questions about PUREVAX™ ferret distemper vaccine or vaccinations in general, please talk to your veterinarian.