Gastrointestinal Nematodes (Pinworms) in Hamsters
Hamsters can suffer from several types of endoparasitic worm infections. One such internal parasite is the pinworm. It rarely occurs in hamsters but causes complications in the animal's digestive tract. Found in other infected hamster's feces, it is typically spread via contaminated feed and water.
Pinworm infections are easily treatable, but can also be spread quite easily. Therefore, it is important to follow proper sanitation techniques in the hamster's living area to prevent such cases of infections from occurring in the first place.
There are no characteristic symptoms associated with a pinworm infection. However, hamsters may exhibit the following non-specific symptoms: loss of appetite, weight loss, and body wasting. If left untreated, the hamster may even develop a swollen abdomen, swelling in the feet and other extremities, and a rough coat of hair.
Pinworms are transmitted mainly via ingestion of contaminated water and feed (i.e., materials that have come in contact with feces from another infected animal).
Because there are no specific symptoms present in hamsters suffering from a pinwom infection, your veterinarian will recommend several laboratory tests to confirm a diagnosis. A microscopic examination of the hamster's fecal samples, for example, may be used to confirm the presence of pinworm eggs.
Fortunately, pinworm infections are easily treatable and there are several antihelminthics (drugs to kill endoparasites) available that can be mixed in with feed or hamster. Hamsters that have suffered from a prolonged pinworm infection may require fluid and electrolyte therapy. You veterinarian may also recommend vitamin and mineral supplements to improve your pet's body condition.
Living and Management
Because pinworm eggs may still be present in the cage, it should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before reintroducing the hamster. Additionally, follow the supportive care regimen as set forth by your veterinarian.
Maintaining good sanitation techniques and a regular deworming schedule help to prevent incidences of pinworm infections.
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