Otitis Media and Otitis Externa in Ferrets
Otitis media refers to an inflammation of the middle ear, while otitis externa refers to an inflammation of the external ear canal. Both of these terms are used to describe clinical symptoms and are not diseases in themselves. Otitis media and externa are rarely seen in ferrets, but typically occur in relation to ear mites or excessive ear cleaning.
Symptoms and Types
The most common symptoms of otitis externa and otitis media are pain, head shaking, scratching at the external ear flaps, and bad-smelling crust emanating from the ears. Although the presence of a red-brown or black crust is not detrimental in and of itself, the putrid smell may be an indication of a serious infection.
Otitis externa is often a secondary symptom of some other underlying disease, such as mites. Otitis media, on the other hand, typically occurs when a membrane in the ear has been ruptured, usually due to an extension of otitis externa or overaggressive ear cleaning. Excessive moisture from frequent cleaning can also lead to infection. In some cases, a neoplasm (an abnormal cluster of cell growth more commonly known as tumor) may be the cause.
There are two primary diagnostic procedures that should be done in cases of middle and external ear inflammation. First, an examination of the ear canal should be done. Second, a microscopic examination of the aural exudate (the crusted discharge from the ears) should be completed to determine the types of bacteria or yeast that may causing the condition. Additional diagnostic procedures include X-rays of the middle ear, and a urine analysis which may indicate a primary underlying disease causing symptoms.