Submitted to: Canadian Veterinary Journal
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/1/2006
Publication Date: 4/1/2007
Citation: Hamir, A.N., Miller, J.M., Yaeger, M.J. 2007. Neuronal vacuolation in an adult ferret. Canadian Veterinary Journal. 48(4):389-391. Interpretive Summary: Brain of a 5-year-old female ferret with a 3-day history of abnormal neurologic signs was evaluated. Extensive lesions were observed in the brain. However, the brain was negative for rabies virus and for disease resembling mad cow disease. Detailed investigations of diseases affecting the nervous system of animals will enable early detection (if present) of diseases resembling mad cow disease in our animal populations.
Technical Abstract: Brain of a 5-year-old female ferret with a 3-day history of abnormal neurologic signs was evaluated by histopathology, histochemistry, immunohistochemistry (IHC) for protease-resistant protein prion (PrP**res), and by ultrastructural examinations. Extensive neuronal vacuolation was observed in the brainstem and cerebellar roof nuclei. Similar but isolated vacuoles were also present in the neurons of hippocampus and in Purkinje cells. Brain was negative for rabies virus antigen by fluorescent antibody test and for abnormal prion protein (PrP**res) by IHC. Histochemical stains and osmicated brain tissue stained by HE did not reveal presence of stainable material within the vacoules. Examination by transmission electron microscope revealed presence of variable sized membrane-bound cytoplasmic vacuoles that contained loosely-packed fibrilar material. Since the confirmatory diagnostic test for PrP**res was negative, it was concluded that this was not a case of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy.