Etiology: Canine distemper virus (CDV) causes ferret distemper. Incidence of infection is moderate to high in nonvaccinated ferrets.
Transmission: An outbreak of distemper can rapidly spread throughout a susceptible ferret colony, due to aerosolization of virus particles, with case-fatality rate approaching 100% in a susceptible populations. Canine distemper virus is a pantropic virus infection, infecting and replicating in all epithelial and lymphoid organs. In ferrets, however, the course of distemper virus infection is predictable unlike infection in the dog, and it always induces a catarrhal respiratory phase followed by central nervous system involvement.
Clinical Signs: Clinical signs of distemper appear 7 to 10 days after exposure and include anorexia and mucopurulent ocular and nasal discharge. A rash appears under the chin ( around the anus, and in the inguinal area 10 to 12 days after exposure. The footpads may become hyperkeratotic. Death generally occurs 12 to 16 days after exposure to ferret-adapted CDV strains and 21 to 35 days after exposure to canine wild virus strains. Ferrets that survive the catarrhal phase may die during a central nervous system phase of distemper, signs of which include hyperexcitability, excess salivation, muscular tremor, convulsions and coma. Vaccine strains of canine distemper virus that have been propagated in cell lines of canine origin can also induce disease in ferrets. Signs of vaccine-induced distemper may include mild purulent upper respiratory tract infection with pyrexia that resolves in a week, or progresses to fulminating distemper during that same time frame.
Source- Ferret Diseases