Herpes Virus Infection in Chinchillas

By PetMD Editorial on Jun. 30, 2010

Herpes Virus 1 in Chinchillas


Chinchillas may get the herpes virus infection through contact with humans suffering from herpes virus 1 infection. Transmitted through the air or via infected water and food, the human herpes virus mainly affects the nervous system in chinchillas, though the eyes can also be affected. The signs exhibited by the affected chinchillas are mainly those involving the nervous system. Other lesions are detected only during post-mortem examination of the dead chinchillas.

Chinchillas act as intermediary hosts of the herpes virus infection. Hence, this disease in chinchillas needs to be addressed quickly.


  • Disorientation
  • Seizures
  • Eye discharge
  • Nasal discharge
  • Death


Herpes virus 1 infection in chinchillas is caused by the human herpes virus. Chinchillas may get the infection through contact with humans suffering from herpes virus 1 infection or via contaminated water and/or food.


The clinical signs exhibited by the chinchilla will lead your veterinarian to suspect a possible case of human herpes virus 1 infection in your pet chinchilla. Confirmation is based on the lesions observed at necropsy and also the isolation of the virus from the central nervous system of the affected chinchillas.


Treatment specifically directed against this viral disease is not practical in chinchillas. However, symptomatic treatment to deal with the seizures, conjunctivitis, and rhinitis may be provided by your veterinarian as a short-term relief.

Living and Management

Chinchillas affected with human herpes virus seldom recover from the condition. In fact, a veterinarian will recommend euthanizing (putting to sleep) an infected chinchilla, since it can serve as temporary reservoir for human infection.

Surviving chinchillas can be maintained separately and handled carefully. Feed them a good diet, consisting of fresh foods. Consult your veterinarian as to what foods are appropriate and any other management strategies that may be necessary.



If you or any of your neighbors have been diagnosed as suffering from the human herpes virus, avoid handling your chinchilla. Make sure that the foods and water given to your chinchilla is fresh and uncontaminated. These steps may help to reduce the incidences of human herpes virus infection in chinchillas.

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