Ferrets can contract the flu virus from humans and vice versa or infect other ferrets with it. If your ferret appears ill, take him to your veterinarian for treatment as soon as possible so he doesn't contract a secondary infection and become more ill.
Human influenza is a zoonotic disease that can be passed from humans to ferrets and from ferrets to humans in close contact. The disease passes between humans and ferrets from aerosolized droplets with the influenza virus, such as when an infected person or ferret sneezes. Secondary infections of the lungs are common in young or immunosuppressed ferrets. The secondary infections are usually pneumonia or bronchitis and can prove fatal to young or immunosuppressed ferrets. Healthy adult ferrets rarely contract infections in the lungs.
Ferret Influenza Symptoms
The incubation period for ferrets to contract influenza is only 48 hours. When a ferret is infected, he will have a fever, sneezing, sensitive watering eyes and yellow to white discharge from his nose. These symptoms are accompanied by a decrease in appetite and lethargy. Your ferret needs to see your veterinarian for treatment if he has these symptoms.
Veterinarian treatment for ferret influenza includes supportive therapy with antibiotics for secondary infections, antihistamines and likely amantadine, an antiviral medication to prevent or treat influenza.
You can help your ferret feel better after your veterinarian visit by making certain he takes his medications in a timely manner. Encourage your ferret to eat by offering him some of his favorite foods to battle lethargy. Encourage him to drink plenty of water too. The illness lasts about 7 to 14 days but your home support can help your ferret to recover quickly.
If you have more than one ferret and suspect ferret influenza, separate them so you may only have to treat one of them.
Don't allow a human with influenza to feed, water or play with your ferret.