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Archives: Pocket pets

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Hazardous guinea pigs?

Posted in Pocket pets
All animals pose some risk of infection to people, to one degree or another, but the risk varies a lot between animal species. I guess I’ve always considered guinea pigs to be relatively benig, with a few zoonotic disease concerns but with bites probably being the biggest risk. I still think that’s true, but a… Continue Reading

Rat bite fever…who’s to blame?

Posted in Pocket pets
A couple months ago, I wrote about a family suing PetsMart over a case of rat bite fever in a child. Now, a San Diego family is suing PetCo after their ten-year-old son died of the same infection.  Rat bite fever is a bacterial infection caused by Streptobacillus moniliformis, and it is almost always associated… Continue Reading

Rat bite fever…who’s liable?

Posted in Pocket pets
A Colorado family is suing PetsMart and a rat supplier after their son developed rat bite fever (RBF), following a bite from a newly acquired rat. Lawsuits seem to be increasingly common after zoonotic infections, which is probably more of a reflection of an increasing tendency for people to sue, not an increasing occurrence of… Continue Reading

Feeder rodent Salmonella alert, Ontario

Posted in Pocket pets
A local county newspaper had a front page headline about a zoning amendment that was approved to allow for a feeder rodent facility that will produce about 10 000 rodents a week (I know, apparently there aren’t a lot of big things happen around here). Co-incidentally, a couple days later, I received an alert and fact… Continue Reading

Rat bite fever in a person with HIV/AIDS

Posted in Pocket pets
A recent report in the journal Infection (Chean et al. 2012) describes rat bite fever in a patient with AIDS. I’ve written about rat bite fever before, and it’s not really a surprising case report. Streptobacillus moniliformis, the bug that causes the disease, is found in the mouths of most rats (and in the mouths… Continue Reading

LCMV in rodent facility workers

Posted in Pocket pets
I’ve written about lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) before, as an interesting but pretty uncommon rodent-associated disease. Human infections are mainly associated with handling  rodents, although other routes of transmission, such as organ transplantation from an infected donor, have also been reported. Being a disease associated with rodents and considering how rodents are produced in North… Continue Reading

Biohazardous hedgehogs

Posted in Pocket pets
When I give talks about pet therapy animals, I talk about appropriate and inappropriate animals. On one slide I have a picture of a hedgehog, and I use it as an example of an animal that sometimes makes its way into pet therapy programs, despite standard guidelines to the contrary.  This is a species that raises… Continue Reading

Guinea pigs and ringworm

Posted in Pocket pets
As with most "pocket pets," guinea pigs don’t get a lot of attention in the scientific literature. As a result, we are limited in what we know about certain diseases in this species, and we tend to rely a lot on personal experience, small case studies and extrapolation from other species. It’s not that these… Continue Reading

The outbreak that won’t go away

Posted in Pocket pets
The CDC is investigating CDC is investigating more cases of salmonellosis associated with feeder rodent contact, caused by the less-than-catchy-named Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:-. This strain is the same one that was implicated in a large and prolonged outbreak in the US and UK in 2009-2010 which was also associated with frozen feeder rodents (rodents sold… Continue Reading

Salmonella outbreak from guinea pigs

Posted in Pocket pets
Guinea pigs are relatively benign pets in terms of zoonotic diseases, but like any animal, they can carry some pathogens that are transmissible to people. This was highlighted in a poster presentation at the recent International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta. The poster (Bartholomew et al) described a CDC investigation into an outbreak of… Continue Reading

Another rat bite fever warning

Posted in Pocket pets
A case report in the Medical Journal of Australia (Pananicolas et al 2012) describes a case of rat bite fever and comes with the typical warning about this uncommon but concerning disease. Rat bite fever is an infection caused by the bacterium Streptobacillus moniliformis (the main cause in most countries) or Spirillum minus (the main… Continue Reading

New guinea pig…new ringworm outbreak

Posted in Pocket pets
A Kitchener, Ontario family is dealing with a household outbreak of ringworm, likely contracted from a new pet guinea pig. Ringworm is a fungal infection cause by a few different types of fungi. Some ringworm fungi are able to infect both people and animals, and those can be spread in households from direct contact with… Continue Reading

MRSA transmission between hamster and human

Posted in Pocket pets
The more we look, the more we find when it comes to MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). As people start looking for it in different animal species, it’s often found. We’ve found it in many species already, including dogs, cats, rabbits, pigs, walruses, dolphins and alpacas, so it’s not a big surprise to see a recent… Continue Reading

Pediatrician says kids shouldn’t have rats

Posted in Pocket pets
A Montreal pediatrics resident has expressed concern about rat bite fever in kids. Dr. Karine Khatchadourian described three cases of this bacterial infection in a paper called "The rise of the rats: a growing paediatric issue," published last year in the journal Paediatrics and Child Health. The article didn’t really present any evidence that this… Continue Reading

Rat bite fever leads to pet store lawsuit

Posted in Pocket pets
A Phoenix, Arizona man is suing a pet store after he contracted rat bite fever from a rat he had purchased. It’s not surprising to see a lawsuit following a serious illness, considering people in the US often try to sue for just about anything, but I’m not sure it won’t get very far. I don’t… Continue Reading

G-force and zoonotic disease

Posted in Pocket pets, Salmonella
It seems like whenever a hit TV show or movie features an animal, there’s concern about the "101 Dalmatians effect," whereby there’s a mad rush to get the animal for a pet. When 101 Dalmatians was a hit movie, there was a huge spike in sales of this rather unusual breed – a breed which… Continue Reading

Rabid rat attack

Posted in Pocket pets, Rabies
Cab drivers have to put up with a lot of risks, but attacks from marauding rats probably aren’t high on their list of concerns. However, a Ukrainian cab driver was recently attacked by a rat, and the rat was subsequently killed and found to be positive for rabies. The cab driver is now undergoing post-exposure… Continue Reading

Weil’s disease from a pet rat

Posted in Other diseases, Pocket pets
A recent edition of the Veterinary Record contains a case report of Weil’s disease in a person that adopted a feral (wild) rat (Strugnell et al, 2009). Weil’s disease is a severe disease of the kidneys, liver and other body systems that can develop after acute leptospirosis (infection by Leptospira bacteria). This group of bacteria… Continue Reading

Cowpox from rats

Posted in Other diseases, Pocket pets
Cowpox is a disease caused by cowpox virus. This virus is most famous for being used by Edward Jenner to vaccinate people against smallpox (which is caused by a related virus). However, despite the name, rodents are the natural host of cowpox virus, not cows. Most human cases of cowpox are associated with contact with… Continue Reading

Rat bite fever

Posted in Other diseases, Pocket pets
Rats can be really interesting pets. They can be quite social and are interesting to watch. Being larger than hamsters and gerbils, they can also be more easily and safely handled. They can still bite, however, particularly if they are not properly socialized and/or they are handled by people who don’t know how to do… Continue Reading

Testing for ringworm with toothbrushes

Posted in Cats, Dogs, Horses, Other animals, Other diseases, Pocket pets
If your veterinarian suspects your pet may have ringworm, there are several different ways he or she may test for the causative fungus (a dermatophyte) on your animal’s fur and skin.  Some of these techniques are more useful than others in different situations. Wood’s lamp:  A Wood’s lamp is simply a special ultraviolet light.  Approximately… Continue Reading