Unexplained deaths -- weight loss

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Sun Feb 24, 2002 9:48 am


Paula wrote me (and I am hoping someone else may have some ideas):

Hello, i hope that you can help. I have a medical enquiry. I have seen my
vets about this but it is a mystery! I am and have been a breeder of Rex
Guinea Pigs for 4 years now and since the new year it is falling apart.
I
have lost 3 of my guinea pigs due to the same illness but no one seems to
know what it is. It is not related to their teeth and doesn´t seem to be age
related. The symptoms seem to be weight loss at first, they are still eating
and bright enough not to notice that they are unwell. Once they do show a
little slowness in their usual character they go downhill very fast and
within 24hrs they have collapsed and died or I have taken them to be put to
sleep. The last one that died, last night, was the worst, he was actually
regurgitating and was coming back up the nose, my vet was doing a post
mortom on him last night to see if she could find anything.

Nothing seems to help to revive them, baytril injections. Hartmans solution
injected under the skin. I was having to do that every couple of hours. I am
a veterinary nurse so this is really frightening me that nothing can be done
to save my babies. Please could you inform me of anything that this could be.
I dont want to loose any more.

User avatar
Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Sun Feb 24, 2002 1:42 pm


I notice you have successfully registered.

You said you did not feel it had anything to do with the teeth. Sharp hay can cause injuries in the mouth that could abscess and lead to a reluctance to eat.

If you carefully watch their weight, the next one who loses weight I might consider taking to a veterinary dentist.

Have they been treated for parasites?
Last edited by Lynx on Sun Feb 24, 2002 1:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Paulatidey

Post   » Sun Feb 24, 2002 1:44 pm


Hi its Paula here, I have more information.
They are not related genetically, their diet hasn´t changed since i have had them all. They are fed dried gertie Guinea pig food, fresh veg, hay and water daily. They are housed in a large shed, in wooden hutches made especially for them. They are bedded out with wood shavings, straw and hay. They occasionally get give redi grass, which is like alfalfa. It is so quick when you do notice that they are unwell. They eventually collapse, they dont like to be held (which is very strange) touching them seems to hurt them! It is fairer to put them down, but i have no idea what it is. I am going to find out the results of the post mortom when i go into work tomorrow. does anyone have any suggestions, please help!

Paulatidey

Post   » Sun Feb 24, 2002 1:48 pm


They don´t have any mites,lice or any parasites, the vet even thought of worms but none there. Their mouths are fine. No abscess´ or overgrown teeth.

User avatar
lisam

Post   » Sun Feb 24, 2002 3:20 pm


Could it be due to some kind of toxin? What kind of bedding are they bedded on? What kind of wood is the hutch made of, could it have a coating or paint that could be making them sick?

Guinea pigs tend to mask their symptoms, they could actually be sick for a longer time than you are aware of.

User avatar
Sonia

Post   » Sun Feb 24, 2002 3:40 pm


Oh my Gosh ! Paula I am so sorry for your losses. I have no information to offer but when I was much younger we went through a spate of guineas that displayed the symptoms you listed. It took the lives of 5 piggies in the space of two very traumatic months, all bought, individually, after the previous loss in a bid to ease the grief, from the same pet shop and not related. They started to slow right down, and began to wince or move away from, the slightest touch. The vets didn´t know what it was and death followed very quickly indeed. We replaced the cage, after the second loss and each time there on, from two different pet shops and we totally disinfected the area with a Hibiscrub wash, and aired the area afterwards, I don´t know how long. We never had any postmortems as they were all pets, and we kept hoping that the next one would survive, so we don´t bother. The only thing we noticed was an appearance of ´dozy confusion´ at the last few hours, which years later we assumed was a virus that attacked the brain. Like you, nothing in their environment changed other than me bringing them home, from the way I previously cared for my piggies that lived for years. Then we bought home the last piggie the shop had left, and Button lived for 6 years. As quick as the death rate rose it died away again, and we´ve never heard of anything like it again. I am very interested to know what your results reveal. Once again, I am so sorry for your loss, I will keep my fingers crossed for you, that you can find an answer for this, and pray that your remaining herd are well.

Peace, Love, and Happiness, Always
Sonia

Paulatidey

Post   » Mon Feb 25, 2002 10:40 am


Right I have more information for anyone who is trying to help me.
The vet who did the post mortom on him has found a lot of different things which may have relavence. His stomach was full of what looked like a porridge like substance (this is nothing like what i fed him) it was overly large even though he didn´t eat the day he died. It was not twisted so no torsion. The gall bladder was full, the liver was covered in white spots. She has taken several samples and sent them to the labratory, so results will be on there way to me by the end of the week hopefully! in the meantime i have another one who seems to have lost weight. am keeping a very close eye on him but he seems to be himself. any more advice will help me a lot please.

User avatar
lisam

Post   » Mon Feb 25, 2002 10:53 am


Could you move him to another cage, bedded with towels, so that you can keep an eye on how much he eats and drinks? And weigh him daily?

Louise

Post   » Mon Feb 25, 2002 11:34 am


The only thing like this that I have ever heard of is grass sickness in horses. A mysterious illness that is always fatal. They don;t know what causes it or why - although they think it may be due to a toxin in some pastures but no more clues than that.

I was reminded of it because horses are like pigs and cannot be sick - but grass sickness causes such a breakdown in their systems that food is forcibly regurgitated.

My only suggestion would be that maybe the pasture your hay came from is suspect. A change of hay supplier can´t do any harm - it may be something unknown in the pasture or possibly that chemicals are being used on the hay crop. Or do you pick them fresh grass regularly from somewhere?

The two diseases may be unrelated - but I hope you find the cause soon.

some info
http://www.grasssickness.org.uk/advice/grass_sickness_in_horses.htm



"In the early 1990´s, a disease almost identical to grass sickness was discovered in hares, some of which occurred on pastures where there had been recent cases of the equine disease. Soon after, it was discovered that a form of the disease mucoid enteropathy, which affects wild and domestic rabbits, also has similar features to grass sickness. However, there is no evidence that hares, rabbits and horses can pass the disease to each other."
Last edited by Louise on Mon Feb 25, 2002 11:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

Jac

Post   » Mon Feb 25, 2002 3:48 pm


Hi,
the above posts reminded me of something I read a while back about fluke (liver? but not necessarily) in guinea pigs. I couldn´t find it, but I found a lot on it in other animals. There are lots of different types of fluke, that can infect any of the organs (especially the liver) and blood. They can cause a whole range of symptoms, a lot that were mentioned in your post, and is fatal in large numbers.

The treatment is INJECTED ivermectin. Topical ivermec won´t work, orally it may help, but probably won´t do enough, so ensure it´s injected. If it is fluke your, whole herd will have been exposed so ALL will need treatment.
I hate to say it, but it may be to late for the more advanced cases, so don´t rule it out if it doesn´t cure the first pig you try the ivermec on.

It´s caught from eating food (grass, greens, etc) that infected snails have been on, so washing or even withdrawing suspect food may help to avoid it reccurring, or infecting the ones that haven´t got it yet (if there are any). You can have the poos tested, but this doesn´t detect the fluke if they haven´t reproduced, and it´s possible to get types that are big, so will do serious (fatal?) damage, before this stage. I thought maybe the white spots on the liver might have been fluke, but I´m sure the tests will prove this either way.

I´d suggest injecting ivermectin, as it won´t do any harm and might be the solution. Plus it´s pretty cheap so I reckon it´s worth a try. I don´t know if this is what is wrong with your pigs, I´m not a vet, and I know very little about the subject, but I think anything´s worth trying at this stage. I´ll try to find piggies specific info and post back if I do.

Fluke can also affect humans, so make sure you wash your hands after handling them or their piggie litter or food.

I´m so sorry that this has happened, and I hope you can work out what it is before any other of your piggies die. Until you know what it is, quarantine the sick ones (maybe have a second level of quarantine for the ones that aren´t sick, but have been near ones that are) and keep everything as clean as you can. Keep the sick ones warm and comfy, and make sure they eat and drink. Keep a close eye on the healthy ones for any sign of sickness (look out for signs of jaundice too).

Hope this is helpful, and that they all get/stay well.
Good luck.

User avatar
KarasKavies
For the love of my girls!

Post   » Tue Feb 26, 2002 9:42 pm


I am so sorry for your loss. It is awful. I don´t know if this is of any help, but my pig, Taffy, died this past fall. She had rapid and steady weight loss. After she died the vet did an autopsy and found that the main problem was a viral infection called Cytolomegalo virus. Cytolomegalo virus was found in her liver, kidney, lungs and heart. She also had an opportunistic fungal infection in her kidneys. All of the organs had tissue damage. Also, she had a fatty liver. What made me think of this was that you said that the liver was covered in white spots. Some of Taffy´s organs had that too. The vet called them plaques. I know this virus can spread like crazy. You might want to make sure they test for it. Again, I am so sorry. Having just gone through this, I really feel for you. In the end, I had to put her down too. She was suffering so.

Kara

User avatar
Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Tue Feb 26, 2002 10:33 pm


I stuck this virus in a google search and only turned up 7 all related things (it supposedly causes autism). Can you check the spelling? Sometimes a misspelling will generate results on google because the page misspelled it. I found a few guinea pits when I first started looking for info on cavies.

User avatar
KarasKavies
For the love of my girls!

Post   » Tue Feb 26, 2002 11:38 pm


Cytomegalovirus Well, I was close!

Kara

User avatar
Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Wed Feb 27, 2002 7:42 am


Thanks.

Paulatidey

Post   » Wed Feb 27, 2002 2:18 pm


ok, I got some results back from the pathologist, does anyone know of an online vet who i can ask?

pinta

Post   » Wed Feb 27, 2002 5:44 pm


There is an online vet community but only vets can access it. You vet should be familiar with it or should be able to get the URL from another vet.

Paulatidey

Post   » Sun Mar 17, 2002 4:42 am


Hello there, Paula again. Well I got a result back and it showed that it was a type of streptococcus bacteria. It can be a cause of disease in guinea pigs ranging from septicaemia with acute death to chronic wasting disease with caseeating lymphadenitis. I have been treating them sub cutaneously by injection for over a week now. I thought things were going well when another went down with it all of a sudden and has died. I will keep on going and hope that all goes well eventually. Thanks to everyone who tried to help me x

User avatar
KarasKavies
For the love of my girls!

Post   » Sun Mar 17, 2002 11:45 pm


I am so sorry. My heart goes out to you. So much loss is unfair. Does the vet think it can be stopped and/or contained? Were the pigs that you lost all adult pigs or babies? Maybe someone here will have some help for you. I can only offer my sympathies and hope that it stops.

Kara

Paulatidey

Post   » Tue Mar 19, 2002 2:44 pm


Thanks Kara, I have given up with the treatment. How many times can i inject them, i am putting them through that and it hasn´t worked. It was meant to stopp it from happening again. I will just have to hope thats all i can do. The most recent one that died, was very special as i hand reared him. He was 2 yrs old and 2 months, i was proud of him. x

pinta

Post   » Tue Mar 19, 2002 3:33 pm


I would not give up on the treatment. It could be that whatever they have incubates for a while and you may have prevented future deaths by treating.

It´s obvious the really visible symptoms occur at the last stage of this illness. The one who recently died might have had the infection already in an advanced state. You don´t know about the others. The ones who appear completely healthy may already have the beginnings of the infection. These are the ones the treatment might save.

It would be worth continuing unless your vet says the treatment is having no effect. Since you know what the bacteria is, you know you are using the right antibiotic. That is half the battle.

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