While it is not legally required by law to vaccinate pet ferrets for canine distemper, it is imperative for pet owners to protect their ferrets against this fatal and highly contagious disease.
Exotic mammals, like ferrets, are susceptible to diseases that affect many domestic pets, including the canine distemper virus. Ferrets are highly susceptible to canine distemper, and the disease proves fatal for virtually all of the ferrets that come into contact with the virus. Though the disease is extremely deadly, proper vaccination protects ferrets from infection.
Canine distemper is caused by a paramyxovirus (RNA virus) that can affect numerous species, including dogs, foxes, skunks, badgers, raccoons, bears, primates, and large felids such as tigers and lions. Transmission of the virus is primarily through aerosol droplet secretions from an infected animal, which can live in grass, weeds, trees, and shrubs for up to 10 days. Once infected, the animal can spread the virus for several months. Though canine distemper is considered highly contagious, the virus can be quite unstable in the environment and most common disinfectants are effective in preventing transmission.