Research Note: Systemic Coronavirus Disease & Ocular Lesions in a Ferret

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This case report described a 15-month-old spayed ferret (Mustela putorius furo) that was presented with a 2-week history of lethargy and weight loss. The patient was quiet, thin, and dehydrated, with ocular lesions that included mild discharge from the left eye, mild-to-moderate conjunctival hyperemia, a 2-mm diameter yellow stromal opacity in the left dorsolateral peripheral cornea, superficial corneal vascularization, and multifocal areas of posterior synechia and dyscoria.

Laboratory diagnostics revealed azotemia, severe nonregenerative anemia, hyperproteinemia, hypoalbuminemia, hyperglobulinemia, hyperphosphatemia, hyperchloremia, and hyposthenuria. Thoracic radiographs showed several soft tissue opacities. Abdominal radiographs revealed poor peritoneal detail, enlarged kidneys, and splenomegaly. Abdominal ultrasonography confirmed an enlarged hypoechoic spleen with irregular margins, hypoechoic liver, and enlarged kidneys with fine striations throughout the cortices. A singular mobile hypoechoic structure was noted in the caudal abdomen. Humane euthanasia was elected.

Necropsy and subsequent histopathologic examination revealed multifocal necrotizing pyogranulomas in the lungs, kidneys, spleen, mesenteric lymph nodes, and serosa of the duodenum. Pyogranulomatous panophthalmitis was diagnosed in the left eye. These lesions were consistent with ferret systemic coronavirus; immunohistochemistry testing confirmed coronavirus in the left eye and systemic lesions.

This was the first documented case of a ferret with ocular lesions associated with ferret systemic coronavirus. Ferret systemic coronavirus should be considered as a differential diagnosis for ferrets with uveitis.

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