Lung and Airway Disorders in Rats

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Murine Mycoplasmosis and Other Respiratory Affections in Rats

Respiratory infections are quite common in rats. There are several bacteria and viruses that can lead to disorders of the lungs and airway. Among the lung and airway disorders affecting rats, murine mycoplasmosis, or chronic respiratory disease, is a bacterial infection that has the potential to become a very severe condition, causing both short term and long term respiratory problems. The murine mycoplasmosis infection is also capable of traveling to the genitals and infected these organs as well as those of the respiratory system.


  • Sneezing, sniffling, coughing
  • Difficult breathing
  • Reddish-brown staining around the eyes and nose
  • Rough hair coat
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Head tilt due to ear infection
  • Hunching, avoiding contact
  • Genital symptoms may include inflammation or blood in urine (hematuria)
  • Infertility in female rats due to spread of untreated and severe infections from the respiratory tract to the internal organs (i.e., uterus, ovaries)


An unclean housing environment is the primary cause for lung and airway disorders such as murine mycoplasmosis. Many other lung and airway diseases may be transmitted between rats by several routes, depending on the specific organism, including direct contact with infected rats, contaminated feces, or sneezing and/or coughing on one another. Other frequent causes include:

  • Direct contact with airborne bacteria
  • Sexual contact with an infected rat
  • Infected mother (which then passes it along to her offspring during birth)


Lung and airway disorders can be diagnosed by the characteristic respiratory symptoms that are exhibited by the affected rat. The underlying causes can be confirmed mainly by culturing and identifying the bacterial or viral species that is causing the infection.

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