Many of our ferret owners have heard that the Meriel company has currently stopped producing the only licensed ferret distemper vaccine, Purevax. The company states the vaccine will become available again, but gives us no clear idea of when that might be, or why production was stopped in the first place. The advantage of Purevax distemper vaccine is that it has been tested both for safety and efficacy in ferrets, and is made of only a portion of the distemper virus, meaning it can't possibly actually produce distemper disease in vaccinated animals.
A recent distemper titer study in ferrets showed that adult ferrets who have received their entire vaccine series may actually be immune to distemper for several years, which is good news for them! However, we now have scores of younger ferrets without protection, which puts them at risk.
Our clinic has decided to offer an alternative vaccine for owners of unvaccinated or higher risk ferrets. Nobivac Puppy DPv is not labeled for ferrets, and as a "modified live" vaccine there is always the slight outside chance the vaccine might cause disease. However, communications with the vaccine researchers show that it has been given to many ferrets without any signs of disease. A number of other veterinarians, ferret producers and shelters have given this vaccine to ferrets without apparent ill effects as well.
If you have a high risk ferret (going to shows, exposed to shelter or rescue puppies) or a younger ferret that has not been vaccinated for distemper, please give us a call and we'll discuss the pros and cons of this vaccine alternative.