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Ferrets are used in many broad areas of research and have been since the early 1900's to study the pathogenesis and treatment in a variety of human disease as animal models in biomedical research, including studies of cardiovascular disease, nutrition, respiratory diseases (such as SARS and human influenza), airway physiology, cystic fibrosis and gastrointestinal disease (such as peptic ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori). Ferrets share many anatomical, metabolic and physiologic features with humans which has promoted their use as an animal model. While the ferret was recognized in the early 20th century as having useful applications for medicine, it has only been since the late 1960's that this animal has become an important animal model for medical research. Ferrets were used in early studies of the influenza virus, and are still used today in research on influenza and other viral diseases. Influenza infection in ferrets closely resembles infection in humans with regard to symptoms, viral distribution and immunity. Ferrets are also used to study all aspects of canine distemper, a serious and fatal disease of dogs and many forms of wildlife. In behavioral research, ferrets are ideally suited to certain studies regarding learnedbehaviors. Because ferrets are a domesticated species whose estrous cycle in the female is easily monitored, they have become an important animal model for reproduction research, particularly in the area of neuroendocrinology. In particular, they have been useful in delineating environmental factors which influence seasonal reproductive activity, the physiological factors which control puberty, behavioral induction of ovulation and the control of sexual differentiation in the brain. Ferrets are used in toxicology research. Because of the similarity of many anatomic, metabolic and physiologic features to those of humans, use of the ferret is also being promoted as an alternative to the use of dogs and non-human primates in toxicology studies. source: Ferrets are used in biomedical research on the heart, brain and digestive system. Because they are domesticated and their menstrual cycle is easily monitored they have also become important in reproduction research. Ferrets can also be used as an alternative to dogs, cats, and primates in some studies. Because they suffer similar flu symptoms to humans, they are used to study flu strains such as bird and Swine Flu, and in flu vaccine development. Around 0.7% of animal research uses small mammals such as rabbits and ferrets.


From other contributors:

Yes they are!! Especially in the testing done by the government and CDC. Mostly they test influenza and bird flu on them because their immune system works in much the same way as humans. It is SICKENING to me that it happens. I have a ferret and he is the most adorable and sweet animal I have ever had the privilege to live with. The fact that someone could be that heartless makes me horribly angry.

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Q: Are ferrets used in medical research?
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