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Guinea Pigs/Dying Guinea Pigs


      Where I work, we housed a number of guinea pigs, five females in one section, two males in another then a separate male. Over the past months each one has died off every week or two in a week. We lost all of them before christmas even with us disinfecting their hutches and them on coming into contact with each other. We have since added two new guinea pigs, and one showed signs the other ones did, and has sadly passed and we think the last one is next. We have taken them to the vets before, they said it was nothing, gave an injection and the guinea pig died later that day. We have rabbits within the same area and they have been fine.
  The clinical signs as not pooping, no urination, discharge around the genitals and nose.
  We would really like to solve this mystery as we had two guinea pigs born in a completely separate area and would like to give them a bigger space but are unable to due to this disease.
     I hope you can help us.

It sounds like you have a virus in the housing area and that's a hard thing to get a handle on. You don't say where you work, but my impression is there are other animals. If you have dogs in the area you may have a Bortadella (Kennel cough) virus that's killing your pigs. That's one of the only things that a guinea pig can catch from dogs.  

They don't show the same symptoms that dogs would and don't have the cough. But the Bortadella can wipe out a caviary in a short time.  I had a similar situation in my own caviary last year and lost 15 of my best pigs to it. It took some time to track down what the common denominator was but when I learned that a couple of breeder friends had the same thing going on we realized that we'd each gotten pigs from a breeder that raised two or three breeds of dogs.  Having been ill herself, the area where the animals were housed was not in the best condition. The pigs we brought in were already infected with the virus and we hadn't quarantined them for a couple of weeks as we should have.

What I had to do was take every stackable cage of pigs out.  We scrubbed down every cage with bleach water, did the walls, floors and anything else that came in contact in the area.  We repainted the walls, etc.  We cleaned like we were terminally cleaning an operating room.  It stopped the virus and I haven't lost any since.

I would recommend you do the same thing to the area you have the pigs and see if that doesn't stop whatever airborne or contact virus that is present.  

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Pat VanAllen


As is sometimes the case, people in urgent need of information have a higher degree of expectation than those of us as experts are able to give. The experts on this site do their best to give the most accurate and responsible answers possible. We ask that you remember that it is not our intention nor place to criticize the professional advice given by your veterinarian, nor is it appropriate for us to comment on the correctness of a diagnosis made by a licensed physician. Our knowledge is experience based. Although many years of breeding and showing cavies gives me a wealth of experience it cannot change the fact that we as experts are not veterinarians and therefore may occasionally have to reject questions that appear to be asking us to criticize advice given by the licensed professional. Having raised and exhibited cavies for many years I have extensive experience in cavy care and husbandry. I currently have an active breeding program for pedigreed show animals but do not encourage backyard breeding for inexperienced owners. Although I don't encourage breeding for fun I'm always happy to answer any questions from an owner who is in sincere need of help. Pet owners wanting to breed should understand that even experienced breeders have litter losses. The mortality rate is high in cavies. The chance for losing both sow and pups is always present, even with experience. Although this is a site for experts to assist owners, there is no expert in any field who has all the answers. The wisest thing a good expert can know is their limitations. Not having an answer does not diminish one's ability or knowledge. It simply shows that we recognize our limitations and operate within them.


Raised and shown cavies for many years, having aquired my first cavies in the early 1970's as pets. My caviary currently handles 65 + animals in two different breeds and several varieties. Having been in the health care industry as a licensed nurse for 35 years I have hands on experience with care and needs in both humans and cavies. Member of American Rabbit Breeders Association and American Cavy Breeders Association.

Awarded Lifetime Membership in of one of the oldest cavy clubs in the United States, on whose Board I served as Sec/Treas for six years and currently serving as President. Also editor/publisher of the club's quarterly newsletter. We are strong supporters of our youth exhibitors, most of whom are 4H members who are working on cavy projects. Through these projects they become good responsible citizens. We deal with all aspects of showing, breeding, caring for and sharing experiences in the fancy. The cavy fancy is not a new one but in some areas is still relatively unknown. Our goal is to inspire interest in high quality, responsible breeding to improve the species, not just the reproduction of guinea pigs. Our job is to educate owners to help them make the right decisions and choices in the care of their cavies.

Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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