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Variation in mineral types of uroliths from ferrets (Mustela putorius furo)

Results indicated that cystine uroliths dramatically increased in North America


To compare mineral types of naturally occurring uroliths in ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) from North America, Europe, and Asia and to identify potential risk factors associated with cystine urolithiasis in ferrets.

1,054 laboratory submission records of uroliths were obtained from ferrets between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2018.

For this cross-sectional study, the medical records databases at 4 diagnostic laboratories were searched for records of submissions of uroliths obtained from ferrets. Data collection included submission date; ferret sex, neuter status, and age; receiving laboratory and continent; and urolith mineral type. Regression analyses were performed to identify variables associated with cystine uroliths.

Of the 1,054 urolith submissions, 1,013 were from North America, with 92.6% (938/1,013; 95% CI, 90.8% to 94.1%) cystine uroliths, and 41 were from Europe and Asia, with only 26.8% (11/41; 95% CI, 15.7% to 41.9%) cystine uroliths. The median age was 2.0 years for ferrets with cystine urolithiasis versus 4.0 years for those with other types of uroliths. Submissions were more likely cystine uroliths for ferrets in North America versus Europe and Asia (adjusted OR [aOR], 59.5; 95% CI, 21.4 to 165.6), for ferrets that were younger (aOR, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.58 to 0.77), or for submissions in 2018 versus 2010 (aOR, 21.1; 95% CI, 5.1 to 87.9).

Results indicated that the proportion of submissions that were cystine uroliths dramatically increased in North America between 2010 and 2018. There is an urgent need to determine underlying causes and mitigate cystine urolithiasis in ferrets.


“Variation in mineral types of uroliths from ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) submitted for analysis in North America, Europe, or Asia over an 8-year period”. Eryn B Hanak, et al. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2021 Oct 1;259(7):757-763.  doi: 10.2460/javma.259.7.757.

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