Aleutian Disease Virus (ADV) in Skunks (pg. 2)

Aleutian Disease Virus (ADV) in Skunks (pg. 1)

Necropsy and Pathology

Please read through these sites to have a better understanding on ADV -

  1. - Aleutian Disease in Ferrets
  2. University of Saskatchewan - Aleutian Disease
  3. Aleutian Disease in Ferrets
  4. Ferret Universe - Aleutian's Disease (ADV)
  5. The American Ferret Association - Aleutian Disease in the Ferret
  6. - Home
  7. Ferret Haven - ADC Test
  8. Ontario MAFRA - Aleutian Disease in Mink
  9. 2can Genomes - Aleutian Mink Disease Virus
  10. - Aleutian Disease in Ferrets
  11. - Ferret Aleutian Disease on the Rise Again
  12. AFIP Veterinary Pathology - 1999 WSC 10
  13. White Russion 4 ADV

SkunkHaven™ is offering to pay for necropsies. We ask the skunk to be sent to the State of Ohio Lab. This offer is for a skunk that dies in ANY state. We have the submission forms, address, write up, etc., and will fax them to your vet. We do ask for you to have our name on the form as well to receive reports. I have talked to the pathologist at Ohio State Lab and they have an understanding that SkunkHaven™, Inc. is doing a collective study as to why skunks are dieing suddenly without prior symptoms. We hope to gain knowledge as to save skunks in the future. The Ohio State Lab will be sending tissue samples to GA for ADV testing as well.

If you wish to have tissue samples sent for testing, see our Vet Care pages.

The following is taken from an email message by Debbie Rogers. This provides background information regarding ADV in skunks.

Hi! My name is Debbie Rogers. Many of you know me, but for those of you that don't, I will give you a short introduction.
I have only been involved in this wonderful world of skunks since 1999, though I fell for them hook, line and sinker. They won me over heart and soul! I have worked around and had an appreciation for animals all my life. Since 1985 I have worked in various animal hospitals as a technician and currently as a groomer and part time technician. I, as well as all of you I'm sure, am determined to have the happiest, healthiest and longest lived skunks. They became my life and inspiration.
My life was devastated in Oct. '03 after the loss of my first skunk Tucker to renal failure. He was such a trooper. He had already overcome other health obstacles and been so carefully monitored. I just couldn't understand. In April '04, six months later, I lost his brother Jasper, no warning, only days and he was gone. A month later my baby skunk, had a one pound Terratoma tumor removed (along with his left kidney and adrenal gland). Six months later it was back bigger and angrier than before. The difficult decision was made not to put his body and spirit back through it all again. To say the least I was beyond devastation! The only thing that kept me going each day were the rest of my skunkie kids. With encouragement from them, we took it one day at a time.
As time went on I had a persistent nagging that would not let up. I understood the Terratoma, but Tucker and Jasper's, along with many others skunks, deaths were unanswered. So many with similar symptoms. With Tucker's illness, I spoke to other skunk owners, vet upon vet, homeopathic/natural medicine vets, animal communicators, certified technicians, pathologist and even doctors and nurses in the human field...Nothing! Jasper's necropsy report on a kidney that had hemorrhaged and was the size of a baseball and a spleen that had lesions all through it mainly said idiopathic, possibly immune mediated...again nothing! The nagging continued and after many conversations with close friends, I dove into months of research. As strange as it may sound, I feel like I was just a body, a means of getting the information guided by the skunks. Without getting into the depth of what all took place, things were just too coincidental and really just fell into place, I couldn't have made it come together like it did.
When I felt I had enough information and proof (articles, pathology and histopathology reports, bloodwork) of what I thought could be a cause of death or illness, I presented the information to the doctors at both practices where I worked. Everyone agreed it was a likely possibility and deserved further investigation. What I found was Aleutian Mink Virus Disease or ADV.
For those of you who are not familiar with ADV, I will try to explain. ADV is caused by a parvovirus. This is not a new virus, it was first reported in the 1940's in ranch-bred mink and was named after the highly susceptible Aleutian mink. The virus was then reported in ferrets in the late 1960's.
There are several different strains of this virus varying in strength and immune response. It has been seen in many different species: mink, ferret, raccoon, otter and even wild skunks, but from my understanding this is the first time it has been looked at in domestic/pen raised skunks. Basically the virus interferes with the immune system. ADV causes a huge increase in the production of antibodies. These antibodies combine with the ADV particles to form compounds called antigen/antibody complexes. These complexes are then deposited within the tissues of multiple organs, such as, but not limited to the kidneys, liver, spleen, heart, bile ducts, spinal cord, brain, gastrointestinal track, blood vessels and bladder, resulting in inflammation. If the inflammation is mild, the animal may appear clinically normal. If the inflammation is severe enough, the animal will show signs of disease relating to the organs affected. In other species it has caused ascending (traveling from the back towards the front) paralysis, twitching or seizures, respiratory signs such as sneezing or coughing, blood in stool, anemia, enlarge spleen, liver and kidney disease. It can cause just about anything, and everything we see in skunks. ADV cannot be diagnosed on clinical signs alone. There are tests, but not all are very accurate. The most definitive diagnosis of ADV is made by histopathologic examination of tissues of multiple organs. The virus is currently being studied more in depth in ferrets, to learn its DNA structure, how transmission occurs, how the virus works. Eventually they hope to learn enough to come up with a cure and a vaccine. There is no definitive treatment for ADV, though in ferrets with clinical disease, supportive care, use of anti-inflammatory agents and immunosuppressive therapy with prednisone has been used.
With the support of the doctors I work with, my next step was to find out how to test. In all my research there were several tests, but none were very accurate. Some were even species specific and there are many different strains of this virus and many different species affected. I also learned that there was a team of veterinarians at the University of GA who have been doing research with ADV for the past five years. They already had several tests for ADV and were studying the virus in ferrets in hopes to develop a vaccine. Like I said earlier, how coincidental, this is my state university and actually where Jasper's necropsy (along with many others) had been sent. I contacted one of the veterinarians that was the head of this group, Dr, Bran Ritchie, who immediately put me in contact with Kate Pennick. In speaking with her, she graciously opened the door for me to send samples (blood, urine and feces) on all of my skunks. I was also made aware in our conversation, because the university does not throw away any samples, she could go back and look at Jasper's for ADV. I never dreamed of this. I first contacted Kate in April this year. This was a busy time for her and this team. They were coming to an end of one of their study phases and busy putting their findings together to be published this fall. With the samples I submitted, and with samples from two necropsies that I know of (Jasper's being one), both tested strongly positive for ADV, it has been enough to render further research. Kate has graciously offered to include our skunks in this study of ADV, which will ultimately help vets and others to be made aware of this virus and how it works in each species and hopefully lead to a cure and or vaccine.
This is not my research, nor was it done alone; many contributed! I truly believe it belongs to the SKUNKS!
I know if you just finished reading this, you are probably in shock. This post has not been sent to cause mass panic or for you to feel it is "Dooms Day" for our precious babies! This virus has been in our skunks whether we knew or not. Knowing can be a great thing. It may help save lives or at least prolong their lives without suffering.
I apologize for such a long post, but I feel this needed to be explained and not just thrown out there!
Deb Rogers

This is Lady Bug. She had never been sick a day of her 3.5 years of life.

I did not get up for supper and felt funny. My mother rushed me to the clinic. There they hooked me up to a IV and I wasted away in one day. I died the next day after my parents came to visit me in the hospital. I died that quick, no signs, no symptoms, I was a perfectly healthy skunk with a good diet.

My mother wanted me to go to the State of Ohio labs for a necropsy to be done. I was supposed to be same-day aired but I was forgotten and left at the airport. My mother was so angry so she left work, picked me up, and drove me to Columbus herself. A 2.5 hour trip. My mother cried.

I finally arrived at the State Labs and my mother sat with the pathologist explaining what was to be done. That SkunkHaven was doing a study on why skunks die and that she will pay whatever it takes to find out what happened in hopes to save skunks in the future.

The lab found many things wrong with me but could not idenfily the real problem.

Tissue samples were sent to the University of GA and it was found out that I had ADV. I may not have died of ADV but I did have it.

Lady Bug Lady Bug at Clinic
Photo © American Greetings Photo by Deb Cipriani

This is Morpheus. He was 4.5 years old when he died.

My symptoms started with runny nose and pads of feet peeling. My mother rushed me to the clinic and I was put on an antibiotic, Amoxi. After I finished the first antibiotic I was still sick. My next symptom was semi-loss of function in my back end . I was then put on Metiacam and Baytril. The next symptom was slight bleeding from the nose along with my runny nose.

As the weeks passed I continued to get worse. My appetite was decreasing.

At one point I chewed off my toe nails from what my mom suspected as pain. I was still bleeding when mom found me. My mom applied pressure and quik stop, but I kept bleeding. Finally it stopped after elevating my foot and my mother called her mother to read a prayer over the phone. My mother tried so hard. I finally passed on . All this happened wit in a month and a half. I was shipped from my mother to Ohio State Lab for a necropsy to be done. The Ohio Lab sent tissue samples to the University of GA to be tested for ADV. The primarily finding necropsy showed that I had tumors/cancer in my liver and spleen but has not been identified yet. Tests came back from GA. Yep, I had ADV. I don't know where I got it from, how long I had it or maybe I was born with it.

Mommy does not want others to go through this. Please have your skunk tested so they will not have to suffer when get critical.

My Mommy would like to thank SkunkHaven for the donations made to have nasal cultures preformed , shipping my poor little body to the State of Ohio to have the necropsy preformed and the donation made to the University of GA for the Aleutian tests to be done.

Morpheus Morpheus
Morpheus Morpheus
Photos by Michelle Tate  

This is Gumba. He is seven years old and has tested postive for ADV.

I have been happy and healthy all my life. I have never been sick. Still not sick. This is me in November 2005. Alive with no signs. I have not been around very many other skunks in my life. I am not sure where I got ADV or maybe I was born with it.


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