Crowdfunding Campaign Seeks To Defeat Ferret Coronaviruses

With the help of donations from a new crowdfunding campaign, researchers at Michigan State University hope to find a way to diagnose and eventually prevent two ferret coronaviruses.

ferret in tunnel
© Courtesy of Stephanie and Levi Slade 
Everyone wants their ferret to be the picture of health, and researchers at MSU hope to soon be able to easily diagnose and hopefully prevent two ferret viruses.

Pet ferrets are precious members of many families, but the number of pet ferrets is small compared to the number of pet dogs or cats. This means that ferret ailments might not be researched as much. Fortunately, for ferrets and their owners, Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine has researchers who have been working hard for many years to understand some ferret ailments. In fact, in early 2009 it launched a website devoted to advancing ferret health. 

Currently, the University is running a Crowdpower campaign on its website to benefit ferret research. The goal is to raise $5,000 “to sequence three ferret viruses to better understand and to more successfully treat ferret diseases.” The campaign has 50 days left as of today.

According to the campaign website, the viruses researchers want to sequence are a systemic coronavirus of mink and two ferret coronaviruses (an enteric coronavirus that causes what ferret owners know of as ECE, or green diarrhea; and a systemic coronavirus that “resembles the dry form of feline infectious peritonitis”). Partial sequencing has been done on these, but the goal now is to sequence the entire genome of all three. The mink coronavirus is needed as a comparison.

What will sequencing the genomes do? The hope is that it will provide the researchers with the data they need to develop an accurate diagnosis for the three viruses.  The website notes:

“Clinical signs of coronavirus associated disease are often non-specific, the ubiquitous nature of ferret coronaviruses makes it difficult to determine their role as causative agent of disease in individual animals.”

The ultimate goal is to prevent the diseases worldwide.

Crowdfunding projects began only a few years ago and now seem to be commonplace. This one is being run by the University’s own crowdfunding program. Donating is done online by clicking the green “Give Now” button on the Ferret Virus Sequencing webpage. If you wish to send a donation, but don’t want to do so online, the Ferret Health Advancement website has information about how to mail in a donation

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