Parvovirus in Rats
Parvoviral infection is a highly contagious but rarely encountered viral disease in rats. When it does occur, the parvovirus infection is very severe and recovery of the affected rat is uncommon, as the severity of this infection often leads to death.
The parvovirus infection spreads through direct contact, and by contact with contaminated cage items, such as litter, bedding, etc. Infection is usually symptomized in the digestive system as bloody diarrhea and vomiting, and in the reproductive system of pregnant female rats as stillbirths, small litters, runting (weak, low weight newborns with failure to thrive), hemorrhages, and infertility. In advanced cases, parvovirus can also lead to death of brain cells.
There is no available treatment for this condition; only supportive care is possible with the help of fluids and electrolytes. Prevention of this viral infection, by means of good hygienic practices, is essential to avoid the loss of your pet as a result of the parvovirus infection.
Symptoms and Types
- Severe bloody diarrhea and vomiting in the initial stages of infection
- Pregnant females may deliver stillborn pups or give birth to small litters, especially during the initial stages of infection
- Recovering females may develop infertility or runting (delivery of weak, underdeveloped newborns, with failure to thrive)
- Infertility in infected rats due to death of cells in the gonads (male and female)
- Hemorrhage in male rats, with a high rate of fatality
- Death of brain cells (due to involvement of the nervous system)
- Contact with another infected rat or its feces or urine
- Soiled and contaminated bedding material
- Unhygienic living conditions, with a lack of regular cleansing and disinfecting of the cage and surroundings
A diagnosis can be confirmed by your veterinarian based on the clinical symptoms observed along with advanced serological tests.
Treatment is not available, nor would it be practical to attempt it. However, supportive treatment with extra fluids and electrolytes can be given to help your rat to fully recover from the parvoviral infection. In the meantime, you will need to confine your rat and take extra steps to keep your environment and yourself as clean as possible so that the virus cannot be passed along to other rats.
Living and Management
Segregate any rat that is affected with parvovirus infection from other rats. A pet rat that is recovering from a parvoviral infection will be very weak and will need your maximum care and attention if it is to survive the infection. Consult your veterinarian regarding the diet that should be fed to your pet rat during the recovery period.
The parvoviral infection is highly contagious and is mainly transmitted through contact with infected feces, urine and bedding material. Therefore, properly cleaning the cages regularly of feces and urine, along with changing soiled bedding material routinely is essential. As much as possible, try to avoid housing rats of different age groups together, and do not mis new rats with old rats. In addition, be mindful of cleaning your hands and clothing thoroughly after handling other rats, before handling your own again. Following these simple steps will go a long way toward preventing the spread of parvovirus infection in rats.
The term used to refer to certain lab tests that use liquid blood parts to detect disease