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Incidence of adverse events in ferrets vaccinated with distemper or rabies vaccine: 143 cases (1995–2001)

Cheryl B. Greenacre DVM, DABVP1,2
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  • 1 Department of Small Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.
  • | 2 Present address is the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, 2407 River Dr, C247, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.

Abstract

Objective—To determine the incidence of adverse events in ferrets vaccinated with a modified-live avian cell culture canine distemper virus vaccine licensed for use in ferrets, an inactivated rabies vaccine licensed for use in ferrets, or both.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—143 ferrets.

Procedure—Medical records were reviewed to identify ferrets that had an adverse event after vaccination.

Results—Adverse events developed within 25 minutes after vaccination in 13 ferrets. One ferret developed an adverse event after receiving a distemper and a rabies vaccine simultaneously and developed a second adverse event the following year after receiving the rabies vaccine alone. Therefore, a total of 14 adverse events were identified. All adverse events were an anaphylactic reaction characterized by generalized hyperemia, hypersalivation, and vomiting. Ten of the 14 anaphylactic reactions occurred after ferrets received both vaccines, 3 occurred after ferrets received the distemper vaccine alone, and 1 occurred after a ferret received the rabies vaccine alone. Incidences of adverse events after administration of both vaccines, the distemper vaccine alone, and the rabies vaccine alone were 5.6, 5.9, and 5.6%, respectively. Ferrets that had an anaphylactic reaction were significantly older at the time of vaccination than were ferrets that did not.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that there may be a high incidence of anaphylactic reactions after vaccination of domestic ferrets. Ferrets should be observed for at least 25 minutes after vaccination, and veterinarians who vaccinate ferrets should be prepared to treat anaphylactic reactions. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;223:663–665)

Abstract

Objective—To determine the incidence of adverse events in ferrets vaccinated with a modified-live avian cell culture canine distemper virus vaccine licensed for use in ferrets, an inactivated rabies vaccine licensed for use in ferrets, or both.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—143 ferrets.

Procedure—Medical records were reviewed to identify ferrets that had an adverse event after vaccination.

Results—Adverse events developed within 25 minutes after vaccination in 13 ferrets. One ferret developed an adverse event after receiving a distemper and a rabies vaccine simultaneously and developed a second adverse event the following year after receiving the rabies vaccine alone. Therefore, a total of 14 adverse events were identified. All adverse events were an anaphylactic reaction characterized by generalized hyperemia, hypersalivation, and vomiting. Ten of the 14 anaphylactic reactions occurred after ferrets received both vaccines, 3 occurred after ferrets received the distemper vaccine alone, and 1 occurred after a ferret received the rabies vaccine alone. Incidences of adverse events after administration of both vaccines, the distemper vaccine alone, and the rabies vaccine alone were 5.6, 5.9, and 5.6%, respectively. Ferrets that had an anaphylactic reaction were significantly older at the time of vaccination than were ferrets that did not.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that there may be a high incidence of anaphylactic reactions after vaccination of domestic ferrets. Ferrets should be observed for at least 25 minutes after vaccination, and veterinarians who vaccinate ferrets should be prepared to treat anaphylactic reactions. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;223:663–665)