Tyzzer’s Disease is a highly contagious disease in hamsters that is caused by a specific type of bacteria. This bacteria causes cell death in the liver of small animals, including but not limited to gerbils, guinea pigs and rabbits. In rare cases, this illness can also affect mice and rats but also affect horses and dogs.
Symptoms of Tyzzer’s Disease in Hamsters
Hamsters who are affected by Tyzzer’s Disease will display many different symptoms. Some hamsters may have an unusual stain around the anus, accompanied by watery diarrhea. This may be confused with a condition known as ‘wet tail,’ though they are two different diseases.
A hamster affected by Tyzzer’s Disease may appear to be depressed or they may be lethargic―meaning that the hamster is no longer as active as previously. Their fur may become scruffy in appearance. Lastly, some hamsters may become dehydrated. However, it should be noted that some hamsters may show no signs at all of being infected.
In younger hamsters―or hamsters who are being subjected to stress due to poor hygiene, overcrowding, extreme temperatures, parasites, humidity, malnutrition or are generally unhealthy―death often occurs within 48 hours.
The specific bacteria that causes Tyzzer’s Disease is known as Clostridium piliforme. Previously, this bacteria was known as Bacilus piliformis. When Tyzzer’s Disease occurs, the bacteria grows directly inside the cells. Therefore, it’s presence cannot be confirmed by a routine bacterial culture because the bacteria will not grow in a petri dish or other form of culture media.
To confirm Tyzzer’s Disease in a hamster, a blood test is necessary to detect the specific antibodies that occur when the hamster has been infected with the bacteria. Unfortunately, this diagnosis is often made after death during a post-mortem examination.
Treatment for Tyzzer’s Disease in Hamsters
Currently, there is no known cure for Tyzzer’s Disease in hamsters. Hamsters who are suffering from this illness often have a poor prognosis.
Tetracycline, which is an antibiotic, may be administered. However, it has not been proven to be a successful treatment option. For most hamsters, treatment involves plenty of fluids and maintaining an optimal environment (temperature and humidity) accompanied by good nutrition. Unfortunately, hamsters who are living under stressful conditions often do not survive.
Pet Education: Tyzzer’s Disease
Pet Health: Tyzzer’s Disease and Your Hamster
Vet Base: Tyzzer’s Disease in Hamsters