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March 24. - 2021

Ferrets a Suitable Animal Model for Ebola Studies

While most eyes are currently focused on the Covid-19 pandemic, scientists continue to try to learn more about other zoonotic diseases that have the potential to threaten public health. One of these diseases is Ebola, caused by the Ebola virus.

One of the challenges facing Ebola virus studies is finding suitable animal models to study the disease. Recent research has shown that the domestic ferret (Mustela putorius furo) may be a good animal model for studying the virus.

In a recent study published in the journal Pathogens, scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch and Battelle evaluated the effects of an oronasal, oral and ocular mucosal challenge with the Ebola virus in ferrets.

Temperature loggers used to monitor temperature changes
28 animals were challenged with 1, 10 or 100 plaque-forming units of the virus. Each animal was also implanted with Star-Oddi’s DST micro-T temperature logger to identify fever and other temperature changes throughout the study.

Finding support using ferrets as a model for the disease
Animals that received the virus oronasally and orally, were found to meet euthanasia criteria due to advanced diseases 5-10 days post-challenge while animals who received the virus ocularly all survived until the end of the 28 days study and they did not show a marked disease progression.

These results further support using ferrets as a small animal model for Ebola research when infected via oral and nasal mucosa exposure.