The Next Step:-
FERT was pleased to receive an update from Dr Libby Graham regarding the progress and results of the first round of tests in the pilot study into identifying FRECV in ferrets.
The study screened 93 ferret faecal samples from 20 households or shelters. All samples were negative for FRECV by PCR. This is good news for the ferret-owning community; however, this was a very small sample size so we cannot be confident FRECV is not present in the UK. We need to screen many more samples and will be happy to accept samples from now until February 3rd 2012 for more free testing.
When we analysed the data, we found that most samples came from England, and so we would like to recruit more samples from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Moreover, just 5 ferrets were reported to have signs of diarrhoea or vomiting at the time of sampling, and we would also ask you to submit samples from sick ferrets.
The above update is very good news but does leave a large scope for further investigation and through the ferret community supporting the excellent work of Libby and her team it will enable us all to get a better understanding of this disease.
Please read the original article detailed below if you wish to take part in the second round of studies.
FERT is happy to support and promote a unique study being run by the University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine in collaboration with the University of Michigan.
This is the first study that we are aware of in the United Kingdom into the investigation of ECE / FRECV (Ferret Enteric Coronavirus) and believe the pending results could further the understanding to the cause of the disease and how widespread it is in the UK. Ultimately this greater understanding will also have the potential to increase knowledge on how best it can be treated.
Ferret enteric coronavirus (FRECV) is widespread in the US ferret population. The virus causes a highly contagious diarrhoeic disease called enzootic catarrhal enteritis (ECE). Infected ferrets initially go off their food; they seem lethargic and may vomit. Shortly afterwards, they start to produce large volumes of green foul smelling mucoid diarrhoea. Most animals recover within 1 week. However, older ferrets and ferrets with other infections may become seriously ill.
We believe from investigation work carried out by veterinary surgeon Simon Thomas, that FRECV is present in the UK. However, we do not yet know how common it is.
To answer this question, we will screen ferrets for FRECV in the UK using a new ferret-specific PCR test developed at the University of Michigan. If we find the virus here, we will look more closely at infected ferrets to assess which animals are the most susceptible to infection, and whether FRECV is always associated with diarrhoeic disease.
We are inviting all ferret owners to submit faecal samples from their ferrets for free PCR testing at the University of Glasgow. Please send samples from both healthy ferrets, and ferrets with diarrhoea. Please visit your veterinary surgeon for advice if you are at all concerned about the health of your ferret.
You must also complete a brief submission form. This form gives us permission to use your sample for this study, and will give us additional information we can use to identify the risk factors for infection. We cannot process your sample without this submission form.
You can download the submission form here (link), or from the University of Glasgow website: http://www.glasgow.ac.uk/vds
Sending samples to Glasgow
- Place at least 1 gram fresh faeces (no bedding etc) from each ferret in a sterile plastic container with a screw cap lid. Place the container in a sealable plastic bag, e.g. a sandwich bag, and then in a padded envelope for posting.
- Ask your local practice for a suitable specimen container; we will be happy to supply your practice if required.
- Complete and send the submission form.
- You can send multiple samples, but please send a separate submission form for each one.
- Post the sample(s) and form(s) by FIRST CLASS MAIL to:
Veterinary Diagnostic Services
School of Veterinary Medicine
College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G61 1QH
Please start submitting your samples today. The pilot study will run until the end of September.
We will notify you of your individual results by e-mail ONLY so please make sure you provide us with a valid e-mail address. The results will not be reported until after the pilot study is completed, which we anticipate will be October at the earliest.
For further information, please contact Dr Libby Graham at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Glasgow. Please email
A full copy of this information can be downloaded in PDF format by clicking here - FREVC Study July 2011
A copy of the submission form to accompany your sample can be downloaded using the link above or clicking here - Ferret Submission Form