The Ferret (Mustela Putorius Furo) as an Experimental Host for Brugia Malayi and Brugia Pahangi

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  • College of Medicine and College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Gainesville, Florida 32610

Ferrets inoculated subcutaneously with 150–200 infective larvae of Brugia malayi (subperiodic strain) usually developed patent infection during the 3rd month post inoculation. Microfilaremia was transient, and most animals became amicrofilaremic after the 6th month of infection. Ferrets developed a persistent eosinophilia at the time of patency. At necropsy, 5–8 months post infection, adult worms were recovered principally from lymphatic vessels and recovery ranged from 0.5–13% of the inoculated larvae. The inflammatory response of ferrets to microfilariae was characterized by nodules 1–5 mm in diameter in the liver, lungs, spleen, and submucosa of the gastrointestinal tract. The center of these lesions contained a degenerated microfilaria or the cast of a microfilaria embedded in Splendore-Hoeppli substance. The Splendore-Hoeppli substance was surrounded by eosinophils and/or foreign body giant cells. Identical lesions were observed in ferrets experimentally infected with Brugia pahangi. Sera from ferrets infected with B. malayi demonstrated a 3- to 5-fold increase in IgG by the 4th month of infection and these sera produced 2–3 precipitin bands in double gel diffusion assays with an extract of B. malayi microfilarial antigen. Skin tests with B. malayi microfilarial antigen showed that the majority of the infected ferrets had immediate hypersensitivity responses, but none had Arthus or delayed hypersensitivity responses.