Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli with genes for heat stabile toxins Sta and STb was isolated from the gastrointestinal tract and multiple visceral organs of three adult and three juvenile black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) that died in a captive breeding colony between 24 May 1998 and 2 July 1998. Similar isolates were obtained from rectal swabs of one adult and one juvenile that were clinically ill. All were fed a diet composed of mink chow, raw rabbit meat, beef liver powder, blood meal and lard. Escherichia coli of the same toxin genotype was isolated from the mixed ration. Clinical signs included sudden death, dehydration, anorexia and diarrhea. Necropsy lesions included acute enteritis with large numbers of rod shaped bacteria microscopically visible on intestinal villi.
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