The other day I was playing with my piggy Boris on the floor, and I allowed him quite close to my face. The next day I realised I was coming down with a cold and am now really worried he will catch it!
I do not think they can catch human cold/flu viruses, it would have to mutate to do so. Am i wrong? I am not 100% sure, obviously..
I remember reading that piggies are not prone to viral infections but can get bacterial infections. So human colds are not something to worry about! I'd appreciate confirmation on this, though.
I have a quote from a book I have (Guinea Piglopaedia)- "There are only a few diseases that can be transmitted from Guinea Pigs to humans. The most serious are salmonella and yersinia bacteria, which cause scours and intestinal infections...Ringworm causes skin disease in many mammals..."
And that's all it says about the issue! It doesn't even mention guinea pigs catching illnesses from humans. From a little research it seems that other sources are in agreement and state that transmission of infection between human and guinea pig is extremely rare.
Kind of long and gross, but to the point -
I am not a doctor, but I have studied virology and epidemiology for my work.
There are reasons why guinea pigs are used in medical research, and one of them is that they have very similar immune systems. Guinea pigs will not catch a cold virus from people. However, they are quite succeptable to bacterial infections that come along with your cold.
A cold virus weakens your resistance to other bacteria so they will often accompany a cold. Mucus color is a good indication of whether you have more than just a viral cold.
Mucus colors and meanings -
Clear or light yellow - probably viral only.
Dark yellow - likely bacterial, like sinus infection or pneumonia
Green - Bacterial infection
Gray - you are a smoker
Brown - you either smoke or same as Dark Yellow
Bloody - you have big problems go to the emergency room.
Anything other than clear or light yellow means your pigs could be in great danger from your sickness.
Thanks for the good information. I've been coughing up medium yellow mucus for weeks in spite of 4 rounds of zythromax - probably a sinus infection. But I never thought about staying away from the pigs like I would if I felt sick.
So flu isn't a contagion problem for pigs?
Here's my thought on the matter. MANY of us on this board are sole caretakers of our guinea pigs and have no choice but to continue caring for our pets while ill. While it may be possible for some bugs to cross over, I have never read a single story on this board of a guinea pig getting sick from his owner. Maybe it's happened, but we have a large and observant cross section and haven't seen it so it's unlikely.
That is a point, rshevin. When the girls were younger & we had our first pigs I was the sole caretaker. And the girls were going to that germ factory called elementary school so we were sick *a lot*. Those two pigs were never sick (except for bladder issues with one of them) and both lived past 6 years.
Also, I would add:
If your pigs have ANY color of mucus you need to get them to the vet ASAP.
Guinea pigs are used to study human flu. The virus would not survive in a cat or dog but could survive in guinea pigs and ferrets. I know ferrets can catch colds and flus and will show symptoms. I do not know if guinea pigs are asymptomatic or not but they can spread the flu virus.
Humans can and should take reasonable precautions like thorough handwashing before handling/giving food.
Of course. If you're sick, wash your hands, don't kiss all over your pigs, and act like you have a brain. To do otherwise is irresponsible. Beyond that, I have an increadibly hard time believing that guinea pigs catch and carry human zoonotic diseases. Just because they can be induced to exhibit flu viruses (which may very well by modified viruses) in laboratory doesn't mean they can catch them in the home environment.
In the lab, the flu virus is directly shot up their nostrils. But, there was one study I read where they housed other guinea pigs nearby that were not "shot up" with the flu and it was still transmitted through the air.
There are a couple of rodent-human illnesses that can be transmitted back and forth but I believe in those situations usually it's the human you have to worry about!
Either way, roguebantha (nice user name by the way!) I would not be too worried about him getting your cold.
Do you have a scale to weigh him on regularly? If you get a kitchen scale and weigh him once a week you will be able to notice abrupt weight loss and catch any illness before it gets too bad. Great for peace of mind and monitoring health.
Hanta virus is caught from mice and it's *bad* for humans.
Always makes me paranoid when I'm handling stray pigs that may have been exposed to stuff. >_<
They can get sick from the bacteria that causes us a cold, also Kennel cough from the dogs. I avoid going near them when I get sick just in case.
I have passed over gastroenteritis a few times to the pigs. My bad immune system is prone to any infections, I avoid people who cough like the plague. Yet, I get gastroenteritis easily, despite me bing so hygienic, not everyone else is. My two eldest piggies seem to get it when I get it. I avoid picking them up and handling the cage when I have it, but then it always seems too late. When I discover it, I already have transmitted to to them.
Have you been tested for giardia? Both humans and guinea pigs can get it.
Yep, have been tested a few times, no giardia.
I've noticed a decay in proper food hygiene here. Cleaning work tops, washing hands after going to the oval porcelain office is something that's becoming less and less used.
I go to the grocery store and I see food on the floor all over, when they are unpacking, just plain gross. There has been a real outbreak of gastroenteritis amongst Belgians here the past two years, no wonder.
Hub works at a humongous hospital and they give training to people on how to be hygienic on a regular basis. Even lots of hospital staff isn't used to washing their hands, bweeeeeeeerk.
I have been a manager in the food industry in the past, so I know proper hygiene, but I still have caught it several times the past two years from eating out. I hope that the scare of the Mexican flu will make people aware of being hygienic again, but I don't have my hopes up.
You can get negative giardia tests and still have it. It is hard to get rid of.
Thanks for all your comments, it's reassuring to know it seems very unlikely I will have passed it on.
I am still only at the sore throat/ clear-yellow phlegm phase myself (lovely!), and the incident I was particularly worried about was the day before I showed any symptoms at all. Boris is still fine, so fingers crossed. I just know how bad they can get if they do catch something bacterial, and I had heard somewhere that people can be very contagious in the early stages.
Boris says hi, he is having his floor time and has just come up to play, so I had better go! But no more than stroking from a distance (with clean hands of course!).