Eosinophilic gastroenteritis is an intestinal disorder seen in the ferret . The disease is characterized by the abnormal accumulation of white blood cells called eosinophils in the intestinal wall and associated lymph nodes, although the cause of this is unknown. The eosinophil is a component of the immune system, and is particularly involved with defense against parasites, but no parasite has been found responsible in this syndrome to date. As the bowel wall becomes infiltrated with enormous numbers of eosinophils, the normal architecture of the intestinal wall is disrupted, and so is its function.

Symptoms of eosinophilic gastroenteritis include loss of appetite, chronic weight loss, mucousy diarrhea which may be bloody, and intermittent vomiting. This is a slowly progressing, chronic disease process in the domestic ferret, with symptoms developing over a period of weeks to months.

Diagnosis of eosinophilic gastroenteritis is confirmed by taking a full-thickness bowel biopsy during an exploratory surgery, along with biopsies of abdominal lymph nodes. If E.G. is present, large numbers of eosinophil infiltrates are seen on microscopic examination of the tissue samples.

Treatment of eosinophilic gastroenteritis is with nutritional support and corticosteroids. Because these individuals have a compromised ability to absorb nutrients, feedings should include high calorie supplementation with products such as Nutrical or Deliver. If the diarrhea is severe, fluid support may also be necessary. As with other inflammatory bowel diseases, the use of corticosteroids can be extremely beneficial in controlling the problem. The use of prednisone or prednisolone at 1mg/lb body weight daily is usually effective. Once the symptoms have disappeared, the dose can be lowered and sometimes discontinued, but symptoms often recur.

If you have any questions or comments about the information above, feel free to send a message to Dr. Suzanne Lee, D.V.M. at SLeeDVM@aol.com.

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