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  • San Jose Educational Article of the Month - Diseases in rats

Diseases in rats

Diseases in rats

Rats, like any living being, are prone to a wide variety of disease. Rats however tend to have several inborn traits that cause them as a species to suffer with a number of bothersome ailments. All California rats, pet and wild alike, are born carriers of Myco (Mycoplasma Pulmonis). This is a respiratory infection much like pneumonia. Because the San Jose rat is a carrier of the disease, it can spend its entire life without ever manifesting any symptoms of Myco. There are a number of factors that can cause it to flare up including stress, poor diet, unclean environment, and a weakened immune system.

Symptoms of Myco include sniffling and sneezing, lethargy, rheumy eyes, and trouble breathing. Other symptoms can include dull, rough looking fur, red staining around its eyes and nose caused by the porphyry gland and general lack of self grooming. If the infection is accompanied by an ear infection you will notice it tilting its head or shaking it vigorously from side to side. If left untreated, Myco will get deep in the lungs and be fatal. It is not contagious to humans and, it can be treated by antibiotics.

Digestive issues are also common among rats. If a rat seems to be having digestive issues, it is mostly caused by pin worms or tape worms. Symptoms are diarrhea, bloating, and general look of discomfort. Another stomach issue is the presence of Protozoa. These micro-organisms are normally found in the digestive tract of rats and do not usually cause problems. However, if a rat becomes ill or stressed these protozoa can cause serious intestinal infections. An infected rat will have diarrhea, lethargy, rough dull coat, weight loss and, in severe cases, heavy intestinal bleeding that can lead to death. The protozoa can be controlled with drugs. Fleas, lice, and mites are common rat problems that can cause disease. Left untreated they can lead to skin lesions, loss of hair, and dangerous viruses, and more serious conditions. You can treat California fleas with dust or sprays, mites and lice can be treated internally with medications. Staphylococcal Infection caused by scratching and biting affects rats with an already weakened immune system. Inflamed sores can turn into abscesses around the face and head. If left untreated, these will grow under the skin and become tumors. Antibiotic steroids will stop the infection. Rats are also highly susceptible to glandular and organ related tumors and in most cases they can be successfully removed. Tumors can affect almost any part of the body and early surgical removal is the only hope for stopping the spread. Rats are also prone to a wide variety on urinary tract infections. From bladder infections, to cysts and kidney stones, a rat’s urinary tract is highly susceptible to damage. Unfortunately there are no real symptoms for these maladies. Detection is done through blood testing and antibiotics are usually thee cure. In older rats urinary infections are normally fatal.

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