Bacterial Disease (Tyzzer's Disease) in Hamsters

By PetMD Editorial on Jul. 22, 2010

Tyzzer's Disease in Hamsters

Tyzzer's disease is an infection caused by the bacteria Clostridium piliforme. Often found in young or stressed hamsters, the bacteria affects the digestive system and causes severe abdominal pain and watery diarrhea. It is transmitted via spores that spread through the environment, contaminating bedding material, food containers, and water. The bacteria can also be spread through contaminated feces.


Some hamsters with Tyzzer's disease may die suddenly without exhibiting any symptoms. However, many exhibit some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Hunched posture
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite (anorexia)
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Rough body coat


The Clostridium piliforme bacteria which causes Tyzzer's disease is more likely to infect young or stressed hamsters. And although it is mainly transmitted via contaminated feces and bedding material, the bacteria can form spores that spread through the environment, thus making it highly contagious.


Observing the clinical symptoms exhibited by the sick hamster helps in making an initial diagnosis. Your veterinarian will then collect fecal or blood samples and attempt to identify the bacterial species responsible for the infection. However, blood tests are only sometimes accurate in these cases. Your veterinarian will use his or her best judgment in devising an appropriate course of treatment.


Your veterinarian will often treat Tyzzer's disease by administering broad-spectrum antibiotic drugs. He or she may also prescribe vitamin and mineral supplements to help improve the health status and immunity of the infected hamsters. If the hamster is dehydrated, fluids and electrolyte supplements may be administered.

Living and Management

Consult your veterinarian regarding the hamster's diet and post-treatment care routine. In addition, wash your hands thoroughly before and after attending to other hamsters to minimize the chances of spreading the infection.


Routinely cleaning the hamster's living area and separating healthy hamsters from those suspected of infection are two good ways of preventing the spread of Tyzzer's disease.

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