Bacterial (Yersinia) Infection in Chinchillas

PetMD Editorial
July 07, 2010
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Yersinia Infection in Chinchillas

Infection caused by the bacteria belonging to the genus Yersinia is referred to as yersiniosis. Because it is transmitted via contact with wild rodents that are carriers of the disease, pet chinchillas raised at home rarely contract the infection. However, chinchillas can also get yerniosis by eating infected droppings or from their mothers, prior to birth or through milk while nursing.

Yerniosis can spread quickly and is difficult to treat. Deciphering a diagnosis is also quite difficult, as the chinchilla exhibits no specific signs. Therefore, preventing yerniosis from infecting your chinchilla by following a strict hygiene regimen is vital.

Symptoms

  • Loss of energy
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Death

Causes

Being exposed to wild rodents that are carriers of the disease is the most likely source of infection. Chinchillas can also get the disease by eating infected droppings or from their mothers, either prior to birth or through milk while nursing.

Diagnosis

Observing the various non-specific signs exhibited by the chinchilla would make your veterinarian suspect a possible bacterial cause. Blood tests will need to be performed to confirm the diagnosis of Yersinia infection. Lesions observed during postmortem examination may also make your veterinarian suspect a possible case of yersiniosis.

Treatment

Treatment is not effective in dealing with cases of yersiniosis. Oral or injectable antibiotics and other supportive therapy may be administered, but the outcome is usually negative.

Living and Management

Though the general outcome of chinchillas affected with yersiniosis is poor, any recovering chinchilla must be placed in a sterile environment. Clean and disinfect the cages before allowing the chinchilla inside. Make sure to provide fresh and clean drinking water and diet. Do not allow the recovering chinchilla to come in contact with other chinchillas and take to prevent any wild rodents from accessing your pet’s cage. Lastly, follow the supportive care as advised by your veterinarian.

Prevention

To prevent infection, improved general chinchilla husbandry and sanitation are required and disinfec­tion practices should be intensified. Also, exposure to wild rodents should be eliminated.