What with the H1N1 virus being a common topic of both conversations and worries, several questions are slowly arising involving Zoonotic Diseases and viruses. Just what types of conditions can you and your pet hamster share or spread?
Caused by the presence of the dangerous bacteria, Francisella Tularensis, Tularemia is generally carried only by small rodents such as hamsters, mice, rats, and gerbils, and may affect both wild and tame creatures. Symptoms in both hamsters and humans typically consist of flu-like symptoms, diarrhea, upper respiratory issues, and pneumonia. It is not uncommon for infected hamsters and humans to show no obvious signs of illness.
While many pet owners are aware of the risks of rabies, the majority do not understand exactly what this virus consists of. Rabies greatly affects the nervous system and can only be transmitted through bite from an infected animal.
Also known as LCM, Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis is a viral infection carried by small rodents which may cause very mild flu-like symptoms or no symptoms in healthy humans, though the infection may be fatal immunocompromised humans. LCM is known to cause severe complications in pregnant women, such as miscarriage and birth defects. The best form of protection against LCM is for immunocompromised individuals and pregnant women to avoid hamsters and other small rodents.
Despite popular belief, ringworm is not an actual worm, but rather a type of fungal infection. Infection generally causes a round or ring-like patch of rough and scaly skin with surrounding hair loss in both humans and hamsters. Unfortunately, it is quite common for hamsters to be infected with ringworm yet show no obvious outwards symptoms.
Salmonella is a bacterial infection which can be fatal to those suffering from other conditions, the young, and the elderly. Symptoms in hamsters may include slight diarrhea and stool changes, though infected animals may show no symptoms at all. Symptoms in humans may include severe abdominal cramps. Proper sanitation after handling pet waste is the only preventative measure which can currently be taken.
Proper sanitation and hygienic practices after handling an ill hamster or hamster waste is the best preventative measure concerning most Zoonotic Diseases. It is important to establish the habit of washing hands after handling all pets, no matter what the animal’s current health. Paying close attention to the overall health and behavior of your pet and keeping a properly sanitized living space is also quite important.