A 4.5-year-old, male castrated ferret was examined with a 27-day history of severe pruritus, generalized erythema and scaling. Skin scrapings and a trichogram were negative for mites and dermatophyte organisms. A fungal culture of hair samples was negative. The ferret was treated presumptively for scabies and secondary bacterial and yeast infection with selamectin, enrofloxacin, fluconazole, diphenhydramine and a miconazole-chlorhexidine shampoo. The ferret showed mild improvement in clinical signs over the subsequent 3 weeks, but was inappetent and required supportive feeding and subcutaneous fluids by the owner. The ferret was then examined on an emergency basis at the end of 3 weeks (53 days following initial signs of illness) for severe blood loss from a haematoma over the interscapular region, hypotension and shock. The owners elected euthanasia due to a poor prognosis and deteriorating condition. On post-mortem examination intraepithelial canine distemper viral inclusions were identified systemically, and abundant canine distemper virus antigen was identified with immunohistochemical staining. It is important to note the prolonged course of disease along with the absence of respiratory and neurological signs because this differs from the classic presentation of canine distemper virus infection in ferrets. Canine distemper virus should remain a clinical suspicion for ferrets with skin lesions that do not respond to appropriate therapy, even in animals that were previously vaccinated.
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