What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease Due to Lymphocytes and Plasma?

Inflammatory bowel disease due to lymphocytes and plasma in ferrets is known as lymphoplasmacytic enteritis and gastroenteritis to the world of veterinary medicine. This internal condition is a form of inflammatory bowel disease characterized by a plasma and/or lymphocyte cell infiltration into the lamina propria of the intestine and/or stomach. Lymphocytic infiltration in this area of the intestines is an inflammatory response to environmental stimuli or infectious agents, whereas lymphocytic infiltration of the stomach’s lamina propria usually indicates the ferret is suffering from significant disease. The exact antigens, mechanisms and patient factors involved in this infiltration response is unknown, often progressing as it remains untreated. 

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Symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease Due to Lymphocytes and Plasma in Ferrets

Symptoms associated with the condition are variable and develop gradually and many ferrets do not show any obvious signs of gastrointestinal inflammation. Ferrets that do show clinical signs may not be noticed until the condition progresses. Clinical signs ferret owners should watch for that would indicate inflammatory bowel disease due to lymphocytes and plasma include the following: 

  • Ptyalism (pawing at the mouth) 
  • Vomiting 
  • Melena 
  • Diarrhea with or without blood and mucus
  • Muscle wasting 
  • Weight loss 
  • Anorexia 

Causes of Inflammatory Bowel Disease Due to Lymphocytes and Plasma in Ferrets

The exact antigens, mechanisms and patient factors involved in this infiltration response is unknown, but veterinarians believe irritants responsible for triggering the immune inflammatory response are to blame. Ferret foods that contain milk proteins, preservatives, artificial dyes, food additives, and high levels of meat proteins have been linked to ferrets acquiring lymphoplasmacytic enteritis and gastroenteritis. Intestinal lesions associated with Aleutian disease virus, cryptosporidiosis, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Giardia, epizootic catarrhal enteritis, or other infectious agents are also linked to lymphoplasmacytic enteritis and gastroenteritis. Gastric lesions can result in lymphocytic infiltration of the stomach’s lamina propria due to an infection of the bacterium Helicobacter mustelae

Diagnosis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease Due to Lymphocytes and Plasma in Ferrets

In order to diagnose lymphoplasmacytic enteritis and gastroenteritis, the veterinarian will need to perform a differential diagnosis against other common health problems that affect the digestive system. In order to accomplish this, the doctor will begin by requesting a complete blood cell count, biochemistry profile and urinalysis. Other laboratory tests include a fecal examination, fecal flotation test, and fecal cytology. Based on the clinical findings of these exams, the veterinarian may want to survey the ferret’s abdomen using radiographs. A barium contrast study may also be requested, highlighting the intestines using a specialized dye. However, a barium contrast test will only indicate that the ferret is not suffering from a separate underlying disease and will not identify lymphoplasmacytic enteritis and gastroenteritis. 

To pinpoint lymphoplasmacytic enteritis and gastroenteritis, the veterinarian will require a biopsy and histopathology, usually obtained via an exploratory laparotomy. Intestinal fluid can be submitted for bacterial overgrowth and a lymph node biopsy can also be taken to be submitted for histopathology examination.  

Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease Due to Lymphocytes and Plasma in Ferrets

Treatment will begin with addressing the ferret’s primary symptoms. If the pet is dehydrated, intravenous fluids, such as a lactated Ringer’s solution, will be administered. Patients that are dehydrated or emaciated, with protein-losing enteropathies or concurrent illness may require hospitalization. If the ferret is experiencing vomiting, all food and water will be withheld, plus a dextrose-containing fluid will be provided. Blood glucose levels will be monitored as the ferret’s diet is changed to a highly digestible protein source. The veterinarian will work with the ferret owner to find a food that has a low potential to cause an allergic reaction. A natural diet, usually of poultry, may be recommended as a naturally sourced diet will not contain dyes or preservatives that could cause inflammatory bowel disease due to lymphocytes and plasma. 

Recovery of Inflammatory Bowel Disease Due to Lymphocytes and Plasma in Ferrets

A ferret suffering from  lymphoplasmacytic enteritis and gastroenteritis will require continuous follow-up examinations by the veterinarian. Until the ferret’s symptoms subside, the pet may require hospitalization. The ferret may require medications to suppress the allergic response causing the condition. Until the underlying cause of inflammatory bowel disease has been pinpointed, the ferret will undergo a course of trial treatments.