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Can Guinea Pigs Catch A Human's Common Cold?

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Ruby Inferno

Teenage Guinea Pig
Sep 18, 2014
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England, UK
I have a cold right now (it's not a bad one thankfully), and I was just wondering if it's possible to spread this to my piggies? I cuddled a couple of them earlier and now I'm worried... Should I start wearing a mask and gloves when I'm looking after them?

I will be sure to check on my piggies tomorrow in case they start showing any URI symptoms.
It's the bacterial side of things they can catch, so I'd just avoid contact as best you can to be on the safe side. If you have to have contact, wash hands, use hand sanitiser and don't get too close :)
An article in this months Guinea Pig magazine sugests that they can.

This was an anecdotal personal opinion based upon one case history and with no microbiological or scientific substantiation.

Most human colds are caused by a range of viruses (eg rhinovirus) - which are not transmissible to guinea pigs, Most virl infections tend to be species-specific.

However guinea pigs have been shown to contract human influenza virus (ie "flu") when deliberately infected in laboratory situations....They can also be infected with adenovirus (which also infects humans to cause cold-like symptoms) with debilitating or fatal results.

Secondary bacterial infections that accompany a cold (eg when you get sinusitis or bad coughs) "might" be transmisslble and these are what you need to look out for. Bacteria are more able to jump the species barrier to cause infection than viruses because of the differing manner in which they infect the body (they are not reliant on attaching and entering host cells unliike viruses - they are more able to live externally on mucosal surfaces)

Whilst the prospect of guinea pigs contracting a routine human cold virus is low in most circumstances - it does no harm to observe good hygiene when you are suffering - just in case you are brewing "other bugs" associated with colds. ...and as we have seen this year - there are some very nasty bugs around causing long-term coughs and sneezes!
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Very helpful Pebble, thanks! I have been washing my hands like crazy just in case it's contagious. :)
My vet always says no, because viruses by and large are species-specific. I do wash my hands often when I'm sick and enforce the same rule with the kids. Thus far we've never had a pig contract an illness from any of us. Hope you feel better soon! We've been passing a cold around for the past few weeks too... my son had it, I had it, and now my oldest daughter has it. Only dad and youngest daughter left to go!
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