Guinea pigs may harbor a hidden health hazard, researchers say
The bacteria, Chlamydia caviae, normally causes pink eye in guinea pigs. Three adults in the Netherlands wound up hospitalized for pneumonia after contact with guinea pigs resulted in their infection with C. caviae. Dr. Steven Gordon, chair of infectious disease at the Cleveland Clinic, said the cases are a reminder to practice good hygiene around pets.
The two people who landed in the ICU had guinea pigs as pets, and those pets had been sick with respiratory symptoms. The man had two guinea pigs, while one of the women had 25, researchers said. The other woman worked in a veterinary clinic, where she cared for guinea pigs suffering from pink eye and nasal inflammation. Doctors detected Chlamydia bacteria in samples drawn from the patients and figured it was Chlamydia psittaci, a bacteria carried by birds that’s known to cause a form of pneumonia called psittacosis, Ramakers said. The analysis also matched the DNA of C.
caviae in one of the patients’ guinea pigs to the bacteria that had infected its owner. Not all guinea pigs carry C. caviae, but many likely do, Ramakers said. An earlier study found the bacteria’s DNA in 59 out of 123 guinea pigs with eye disease. Don’t give away your favorite pet guinea pig just yet, though.
People who want to protect themselves should get their guinea pigs treated by a vet if their pet appears ill, especially if it is suffering from pink eye or respiratory illness, Gordon said.
Keeping your guinea pig and rabbit healthy
Although traditionally considered outdoor pets, rabbits and guinea pigs will often be happier and healthier kept as indoor pets with supervised outdoor access. Rabbits and guinea pigs prefer a large area to roam, places to hide and protection from the weather. Rabbits and guinea pigs are herbivores and require a high fibre diet to remain healthy. The teeth of rabbits and guinea pigs are constantly growing and they require abrasive food to keep them in normal alignment and prevent dental abnormalities. Guinea pigs cannot make their own Vitamin C and will develop signs of scurvy if they are not provided with a diet that includes enough Vitamin C.
Vegetables with a high vitamin C content include parsley, spinach and capsicum. A formulated tablet for guinea pigs is also available and should be provided if they are growing, pregnant or unwell. Female rabbits and guinea pigs should be speyed when they are young. Desexing of female rabbits prevents cancer of the uterus and reduces the risk of mammary tumours. Female guinea pigs very commonly develop cystic ovaries and uterine tumours that can be prevented with desexing.
Castration in male rabbits and guinea pigs eliminates the risk of testicular tumours. There are no vaccines currently available for guinea pigs. Rabbits require vaccination against Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus, a fatal infection that has no cure.
South Coast Pet Hospital!
The guinea pig is a docile rodent native to South America. Many guinea pig owners can attest to the delightful scream of their guinea pig as they reach for the refrigerator door handle or a box of treats. When your pet is young, it is a good idea to expose him to small amounts of different guinea pig chow and vegetables so they become accustomed to change and variety. The cage you choose should be large enough for your guinea pig to move around comfortably and still accommodate a hide box. The sides of the cage do not need to be especially tall since guinea pigs do not jump very high.
Any cage should provide adequate ventilation, therefore aquarium tanks are not recommended for guinea pigs. Your guinea pig should be exercise outside of its cage with supervision on a daily basis for exercise. Guinea pigs are unable to make vitamin C, so they need to be given vitamin C to avoid serious health problems. Pellets made for guinea pigs include vitamin C, but the vitamin breaks down quickly on the shelf and becomes ineffective. A less ideal way to provide vitamin C is through supplementation: give your guinea pig 60 mg of vitamin C daily.
Y vitamin C. Over-supplementation of other vitamins can cause serious health problems in your guinea pig. Most guinea pigs will approach a hand introduced into their cage and can be easily scooped into the palm of the hand.
Guinea Pig Dental Care
Guinea Pigs have continually growing and erupting teeth. They have an elodont dentition which consists of aradicular hypsodont incisors and cheek teeth. In the guinea pig, the growth rate of these aradicular hypsodont teeth may not be equal with the eruption rate. This results in greater curvature of the cheek teeth. The severity of malocclusion of the cheek teeth may not be as easily identified as in the chinchilla or the rabbit.
The guinea pig may not have palpable protrusions at the ventral aspect of the mandible, or at the lateral aspect of the maxilla as in the chinchilla or the rabbit. We look for sores in the mouth and the general shape of the cheek teeth. Dental formula for guinea pigs and chinchillas; 2(I1/1 C0/0 PM1/1 M3/3) = 20. Specialized equipment for visualization of the cheek teeth. Since the four incisor teeth are the only teeth easily viewable, specialized equipment is essential in providing oral care for guinea pigs.
This view demonstrates improved visualization of the cheek teeth. Note the left upper cheek teeth are not in straight alignment.