Measles pp 73-87 | Cite as

Ferrets as a Model for Morbillivirus Pathogenesis, Complications, and Vaccines

  • S. Pillet
  • N. Svitek
  • V. von MesslingEmail author
Part of the Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology book series (CT MICROBIOLOGY, volume 330)

The ferret is a standard laboratory animal that can be accommodated in most animal facilities. While not susceptible to measles, ferrets are a natural host of canine distemper virus (CDV), the closely related carnivore morbillivirus. CDV infection in ferrets reproduces all clinical signs associated with measles in humans, including the typical rash, fever, general immunosuppression, gastrointestinal and respiratory involvement, and neurological complications. Due to this similarity, experimental CDV infection of ferrets is frequently used to assess the efficacy of novel vaccines, and to characterize pathogenesis mechanisms. In addition, direct intracranial inoculation of measles isolates from subacute sclerosing panencephali-tis (SSPE) patients results in an SSPE-like disease in animals that survive the acute phase. Since the advent of reverse genetics systems that allow the targeted manipulation of viral genomes, the model has been used to evaluate the contribution of the accessory proteins C and V, and signalling lymphocyte activation molecule (SLAM)-binding to immunosuppression and overall pathogenesis. Similarly produced green fluorescent protein-expressing derivatives that maintain parental virulence have been instrumental in the direct visualization of systemic dissemination and neuroinvasion. As more immunological tools become available for this model, its contribution to our understanding of morbillivirus—host interactions is expected to increase.


Measle Virus Canine Distemper Virus Maternal Antibody Measle Vaccine Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.INRS-Institut Armand-FrappierUniversity of QuebecLavalCanada

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