Mycotic Pneumonia in Ferrets
Fungal pneumonia is rarely diagnosed in ferrets, and those rarely housed outside are less likely to be exposed to fungal elements, which are typically inhaled from contaminated soil and then colonize in the ferret's lungs.
Symptoms and Types
Dimorphic fungi is seen in two forms -- mold and yeast -- is sometimes attributed to fungal pneumonia. Blastomycosis is another form of this pneumonia. It is found in the southeastern U.S. and Midwest, along the Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri, and Tennessee rivers and southern Great Lakes; also in southern Mid-Atlantic states. Another form, similar to but more widely distributed, is found in Texas, Oklahoma, and California. Yet another form is found in the Southwest from Texas to California. And another form appears sporadically throughout the United States. In other words, your ferret may contract this disease almost anywhere in the United States.
Symptoms associated with fungal pneumonia will primarily depend on the organ systems involved. Some signs include:
- Runny nose
- Chronic weight loss and loss of appetite
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing (seen inconsistently in ferrets)
- Bumps on the skin (uncommon, but have been reported)
There are a variety of fungi that may lead to pneumonia. Your ferret may be exposed to them by being outdoors and coming into contact with contaminated soils, fecal matter and other material. Moreover, ferrets with immune function issues (such as those undergoing chemotherapy) are more prone to develop this form of pneumonia.
Many other diseases exhibit many of these symptoms, so your veterinarian will need to rule those out before he arrives at a definitive diagnosis. This is typically accomplished with a microscopic examination of cells retrieved from the respirator system, or from skin cells if there are tumors or cysts. He or she may also want to do a chest X-ray and possibly an X-ray and/or an ultrasound of the abdomen. In some cases, a spinal tap or an aspiration of bone marrow may be needed.