Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Zoonotic Diseases - Transmission of Illness Between People & Pets


Zoonotic Diseases - Transmission of Illness Between People & Pets

Zoonotic diseases are diseases that can be passed between people and their pets.  While many illnesses are believed to start from an animal origin, rest assured that guinea pigs are not considered a big carrier of any serious diseases.  Despite the relatively low risk, the risk does exist, so to keep both you and your guinea pig healthy, I'll discuss it here.

Illnesses (including parasites) such as staph, E. coli, salmonella, dermatophytosis aka ringworm, giardia, and some viruses - possibly even flu viruses - can be transmitted between humans and guinea pigs.

The risks are low so no need to worry, just take extra precautions if you or your guinea pigs are ill.  Avoid coughing and sneezing in their direction, handle them minimally if either of you are ill, wash hands often, and don't put your faces close together.  In fact, it's generally recommended not to kiss your guinea pigs at all, but some of us rebels do it anyway when everyone's healthy.  シ  You should also be in the habit of always washing your hands after handling your guinea pigs.

Take extra care in keeping the cage sanitary when a guinea pig is sick and separate the guinea pig.  If you are sick, have minimal contact with them, and have another family member care for them if possible.  Don't allow young children or other pets to interact with an ill guinea pig.

Also, carefully quarantine a new guinea pig for at least 2 weeks before introducing them to other guinea pigs, and it's recommended that you handle them with the same care you would a sick animal throughout the quarantine period.  The recent introduction of a new guinea pig is when there's a significantly increased risk of disease transmission.

If a guinea pig shows signs of illness at any time, take them to a vet for treatment.  Since guinea pigs are a prey animal, it's instinctive that they hide illness, so when you start seeing that there is a problem, your guinea pig could already be very ill.  Weighing them weekly is recommended to catch an illness early by loss of weight.  Increasing vitamin C in their diet may help them recover more quickly, so discuss this with your vet when treating for illness.

With all precautions taken, you and your guinea pigs should be back to health and ready to cuddle again in no time!
Below are some links with good information, if you're interested in additional reading on this topic:

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