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Ferret News #86: Ferrets and the Flu in 2004-2005
October 28, 2004

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Greetings Ferret People!

  Ferrets can get the flu from you. With the U.S. flu vaccine in short supply, what can you do to reduce your chances of catching the flu and passing it on to your ferrets? We discuss this and provide links to relevant information on the web.

  You still have a few days to use the coupon code for saving $4.00 on sweatshirts and zipper hoodies at FerretDesigns.com and AmysDesigns.com. The coupon code expires on Monday, November 1st. Remember, you can pick items from both stores and they'll all go into the same shopping cart.

  Even old ferret pros need to take a refresher course now and then. This newsletter's "Did You Know That..." column features some blasts from the past that are relevant to this time of year.

-- Mary

In this newsletter:

  • Ferrets and the 2004-2005 Flu Season
  • Coupon Code for FerretDesigns & AmysDesigns Effective Until Nov. 1
  • Did You Know That... (Refresher Course)

Purchases from these stores help support this newsletter:

Ferrets and the 2004-2005 Flu Season

By Mary R. Shefferman

  Influenza (the flu) is not a trivial illness for many people (or ferrets!). People in high-risk categories (elderly, chronically ill, pregnant, under 2-years old) usually get the flu vaccine every year. However, this year the flu vaccine is scarce and it's hard for even those on the CDC's "short list" to get vaccinated (I have asthma and I haven't been able to get vaccinated).

  What does this mean for our ferrets? Well, maybe not much. It all depends on how virulent the strains of flu are this year. We could have a mild strains and the flu vaccine shortage will have little effect, or we could have strong strains and a possible epidemic. In either case, if you won't be getting a flu shot this year, you'll want to take precautions to prevent getting the flu and/or passing it on to your ferrets.

  For more about flu symptoms, treatment, and prevention in humans, see the flu information at WebMD or you  the flu information in the Health Library at CNN.com (in conjunction with the Mayo Clinic). There are some especially good tips for avoiding the flu on the WebMD site.

  If you do end up getting the flu, remember that you can give it to your ferrets. (The flu only; ferrets can't get the human cold.) To avoid passing the flu onto your ferrets, avoid them as much as you can while you are sick. Wash your hands frequently. If you can get someone else to handle ferret responsibilities, do.

  If your ferrets begin to show signs of illness and you think you may have given them the flu, the first step is keeping a close eye on them. Ferrets are small and can go downhill very quickly. Most ferrets will do all right with supportive care (make sure they're drinking, eating, and staying warm). Older ferrets or ferrets who have other ongoing illness (such as insulinoma) should see your veterinarian. They may need subcutaneous fluids or a special easy-to-digest diet.

  Do not give your ferrets any over-the-counter cold/flu medications without first clearing it with your vet. Some ingredients in cold/flu medications are extremely harmful to ferrets. Antibiotics are not helpful in treating the flu; they treat bacterial infections, not viral infections. However, your vet may prescribe antibiotics to older or otherwise ill ferrets if they appear to have developed a secondary bacterial infection because they are run-down from fighting the flu virus.

  For more about recognizing the flu in yourself or your ferrets and for information on how to help your ferrets through a bout of the flu, see these articles from previous FerretNews Newsletters:

  Note: We aren't affiliated with WebMD or CNN, and we aren't responsible for the content on those web sites. For the most part, the information on those sites is good, which is why we recommend them to you as a reference. Always check with your doctor with questions about your health; always check with your veterinarian with questions about your ferrets' health.

Coupon Code for FerretDesigns & AmysDesigns Effective Until Nov. 1

  There's still time to use the coupon code to save on sweatshirts and zipper hoodies. Until November 1, 2004, you can use the coupon code below to save $4.00 on all sweatshirts and hoodies at FerretsDesigns.com and AmysDesigns.com. Both stores use the same shopping cart, so shopping at both stores is easy.

  The coupon code to use is:


  Sweatshirts and zipper hoodies make nice warm holiday gifts.

  To use the coupon, enter the code in the "Coupon/Promotional Code" box on the "Billing and Shipping" page when checking out.

Did You Know That ...

  Even if you've had ferrets for a while, it's a good idea to refresh your memory. Here are a few topics that are about right for this time of year. (Each article opens in a new window.)

  We always welcome ideas for future articles in the newsletter. However, if you have a ferret emergency, please contact your veterinarian. We don't always get to e-mail every day, and even if we do, we aren't vets and even a vet can't diagnose over the internet. If your ferret has an ongoing condition and you have questions or concerns, we're happy to help as we can. Please remember that we get a lot of e-mail and we can't always answer each individual e-mail we receive. I wish we could, but there just aren't enough hours in the day!

  Go hug a ferret! (That's what I'm going to go do now.)

-- Mary, Eric & Gabby (the lone ferret)

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  Stay tuned for more. You can always get updates by reading my blog (a blog is an online journal). I keep it sporadically and it usually runs to the more personal stuff. But you might like it. It's at



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The shortened version of the disclaimer is: If your ferret is ill or you think your ferret is ill, bring your ferret to a ferret knowledgeable veterinarian.

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