• Discussions taking place within this forum are intended for the purpose of assisting you in discussing options with your vet. Any other use of advice given here is done so at your risk, is solely your responsibility and not that of this forum or its owner. Before posting it is your responsibility you abide by this Statement

Cryptosporidium

Status
Not open for further replies.

furryfriends (TEAS)

Forum Founder
Forum Donator 2020/21
Joined
Jul 30, 2006
Messages
14,270
Reaction score
15,677
Points
2,225
Location
Director at TEAS (East Hunsbury) Northampton
I am posting this on behalf of a friend, who is unable to join the forum as she hasn't got internet access at home. However, she can view the forum as a guest whilst at work.


Hi, does anyone have any knowledge or experience of cryptosporidium?

I keep over 30 guinea pigs (I am not a breeder, they are all pets and many are rescue piggies). Last Friday I got up to find two of them seriously ill. They were sitting hunched up and spikey, looking dreadful, and when I went to pick them up, they started screaming. They both had terrible, foul smelling, watery diarrhoea and despite receiving immediate veterinary treatment, one died within 12 hours and the other shortly after. She had also started passing blood. They were two of a group of three, the third, Clover, as yet has not come down with it but has been scared out of her wits, is eating very little and pining for her friends. I am having to keep her in isolation in my spare room for fear of her spreading it to my other guineas.

Samples were taken, and the results have come back as positive for the parasite cryptosporidium. I have read up about its life cycle, etc and have learned that its oocysts (eggs) can survive in the environment for over a year, waiting to be ingested by a host. They cannot be killed with bleach, disinfectant of freezing temperatures. One medical paper said that infected laboratory guinea pigs shed oocysts for up to a month after being infected.

I am an experienced owner, and have kept guineas for many years. I have never before seen anything like this and do not know where it has come from. The two piggies I have lost were seemingly healthy, three and a half year olds with no known history of ill health, who I have had for about two and a half years. The suddeness and severity of their illness frightens me and now everytime I go to check my beautiful guineas, I go with dread instead of joy, for I fear I will find someone else is ill. Mercifully, so far everyone is fine.

What I need to know is what is the likelihood that my other pigs have already been exposed/infected and if so how long it will take for them to show symptoms? Also how long must I keep poor Clover in isolation? Presumably a month, but as guinea pigs eat their caecotrophs will she keep re-infecting herself (assuming she has already been exposed) and remain a carrier? I work in a veterinary practice so am familiar with hygiene, cross contamination risks, barrier nursing, etc but is there something else I can do?

The lab that made the diagnosis has no information regarding the treatment of infected animals or contaminated environments. It seems to be a very rare condition in guinea pigs, or maybe just goes undiagnosed or undocumented. Can anyone help?
 
Last edited:

Glynis

Forum Buddy
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
36,836
Reaction score
1,458
Points
1,965
Location
Croydon, Victoria, Australia
I'd never heard of it before :{
Debbie please pass on our sincere condolences and also loving wheeeks for the remaining little girl Clover xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
I so do hope they can find the link as to how they got this horrible disease, just been reading up on it and it's a very nasty one :...:(
 

Carma Violet

Teenage Guinea Pig
Joined
Sep 4, 2010
Messages
642
Reaction score
1
Points
0
Location
Gravesend, Kent
Right, tomorrow, I will be giving you as much information as I POSSIBLY can on the matter.

I work for a water feature company and I know that Cryptosporidium is one of the bugs that we have to be very careful about. Our water treatment facilities have to come under strict regulations as we make Splash Pads for children.

I will try to find you as much information as possible. We should have specialist information on the Bacterium.

Does this piggie drink as much as the other?

P.S I personally don't know much about it, but I will find out all I can from out Sales/Engineering guys!

I feel dreadful for your friend, I am sorry for their loss. Luckily I should be able to give you some really clear cut answers... Particularly what to use to kill it.

-Carma
 
Last edited:
Joined
Feb 19, 2010
Messages
641
Reaction score
1
Points
0
Location
sth yorkshire
My only experience of it is from working in Environmental Health many years ago. Contaminated drinking water can be a likely source, a small infection may not affect an adult, but can be serious and at times fatal for animals - e.g one reason not to let your dog swim in rivers etc. Having said that some animals do also make a good recovery of their own accord over time or with antibiotic assistance.

With your pigs, do they have farm or untreated hay? I ask as this could also be a possible source as it could be contaminated from any manure used on the land or from faecal or urine matter from animals that may have been allowed to graze on it.

Advice we used to give out (but most certainly check with your vet first) is to ensure a high fibre diet to help with the diarrhoea and also plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration and because of the risk from drinking water, I would tend to use bottled water.

Hope that helps a little. If I remember anything else I will post
 

Abi_nurse

Adult Guinea Pig
Joined
Jun 25, 2010
Messages
4,545
Reaction score
1,401
Points
845
Location
Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.
I'm so sorry to hear about your piggies, it certainly is a nasty infection.

I can only tell you what i know, though you may already know much of it. It usually occurs in young and stressed Guinea pigs, though many piggies will carry the protozoa (bactaria) with their gastrointestinal tract and never show any signs of disease or diarrhoea, its a bit like worms in dogs/cats I'm not much hel sorry. The disease can be carried in contaminated water, so make sure that water is changed v regurarly.

I would suggest using a high level disinfectant on all of your piggies housing. Something like Trigene or Virkon etc, although expensive should help to get rid of eggs in the environment. I would ask your vet if you can treat them all with antibiotics to try and get rid of the infection too.

I'm really sorry but thats about all I know or can suggest at the moment, but i will do some research and have a look.

xx.
 

Carma Violet

Teenage Guinea Pig
Joined
Sep 4, 2010
Messages
642
Reaction score
1
Points
0
Location
Gravesend, Kent
(sorry for the double post, didn't get there in time)

I am also certain that it would require an extremely high level disinfectant, like Abi-nurse mentioned.

-Carma
 

Carma Violet

Teenage Guinea Pig
Joined
Sep 4, 2010
Messages
642
Reaction score
1
Points
0
Location
Gravesend, Kent
I don't think Milton would kill it though. My only knowledge is that it is waterborne, it's obviously not at all her fault... faecal contamination is a very difficult thing to avoid with animals.

-Carma
 

Abi_nurse

Adult Guinea Pig
Joined
Jun 25, 2010
Messages
4,545
Reaction score
1,401
Points
845
Location
Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.
It does make you wonder whether we should be boiling the water we give to our animals.

I'm not sure on Cryptospridium but boiling water does not always kill all bacterial/fungal spores, its not always an effective form of sterialisation. Just so you know. High level distinfection, bottled water and barrier nursing is all I can suggest. It is transmittable to human too, so please take care.

x.
 

Pebble

Banned
Joined
Oct 12, 2009
Messages
3,030
Reaction score
1,489
Points
880
Location
Sussex
Hi FF

Very very sorry to hear your friend's piggies have gone to The Bridge with this disease....please send her my condolences.

First a bit about crypto as its important to understand what you;re dealing with: As you can see it is not a nice thing to get :...and I'm afraid there is not much that can be done other than what your friend is already doing....however I do have a couple of suggestions and I'll put those in a separate post so they don;t get lost.

Cryptosporidium is a protozoal parasite that infects the small intestine. It is not a bacetrium or a virus....and therefore most antibioitics etc will not work against it.

The disease is caught by the ingestion of oocysts......which are shed from the faeces of an infected animal. They are highly resistant to disinfectants including chlorine but can be inactivated by heat.....and snap freezing (but not environmental freezing such as we have had recently)

The source of infection can therefore be
a) from contaminated water (the source of most of the major recorded outbreaks)
b) from animals, particularly lambs and calves, through contact with their infected feces;
c) person to person contact, which is considered especially relevant in child day-care centers;
d) from contaminated raw foods, e.g. raw meat, unpasteurized milk, fruit and vegetables.

Farmyard manure can contain high numbers of Cryptosporidium oocysts and consequently water may be contaminated by manure or slurry washed off fields into rivers and vegetable crops may be contaminated by direct manuring of the fields in which they are grown

It is also found (often subclinically) in cats and dogs....and other wildlife including deer, ferrets, birds......so theoretically can also be picked up from the ground/grass.

There are several specis of crypto but the most common (and that infects humans and animals) is C parvum.

Drinking water supplies normally rely on filtration/sedminentation to remove the oocycts....but there have been several outbreaks in the UK.


Despite being exposed to oocysts it doesn;t necessarily mean you (or an animal) will get a full clinical infection. Those most at risk have compromised immune systems (the disease came to prominence when HIV patients started becoming infected). However it should be said that if a piggie has cryptosporidium, then as your friend has already stated, very careful hygiene and barrier measures need to be adopted to stop it spreading to both other animals and their slaves

Unfortunately there is no recognised treatment for crypto........best results have been obtained with paromomycin in cats and dogs...but the dose required can lead to acute renal failure. There has been some reported success with azithromycin.....so I'll save that for the second post.

It is highly unlikely that your friends piggies picked this up from drinking water...... It is more likely that they got it from raw vegtables or contaminated grass/wild plants......or from other domestic animals/humans within the household/workplace (I note she works in a vets)

Before everybody panics about the risk of crypto for their piggies......my piggies graze in my garden and have done for years. My garden is regularly flooded by the local stream...and has visits regularly from foxes,badgers,wood pigeons, rats, deer and cats....(and on one occasion a few sheep).

My piggies have never had crypto.....and they have had their poos tested for this and other protozoan parasites such as giardia and E cuniculi as well as worms.........and all came back negative.

I'm sure both us and our piggies are regularly exposed to oocysts....but normally never enough quantity for them to actually cause a clinical condition. The same holds true for any microroganism..it's the size of infective dose that counts and the state of our immune system..For instance.....Piggies carry the bugs which cause URI's .....but it's only when they have a weakened immune system (eg through the sudden massive temperature changes we have experienced recently) that the bugs are actually able to cause disease.


Is there anything else your friend can do?....Possibly

See next post where I will try to answer her specific questions


x
 
Joined
Feb 9, 2010
Messages
139
Reaction score
1
Points
0
Location
Kent
Hi

I am so sorry to hear about your piggies, it's so sad when something like this happens.
I lost one of mine in almost identical circumstances about 6 months ago but I didn't have her blood tested, although if it was Cryptosporidium I would have thought my other piggies would have been unwell too and they are fine and well.

I have had some experience with 'Cryptosporidiosis', I'm unsure if this is the same as Cryptosporidium.
Reptiles can get this, geckos especially, and it is highly, highly contagious within their groups.
Cryptosporidiosis has wiped out whole collections before including my own, it is the one thing I dread the most with my gecko's and it's awful to think my piggies could be suseptable to it too.

The experience I have with the spreading of it amongst gecko's is via faeces, many people leave crickets etc in their lizards vivariums and if they are not eaten straight away they should be removed & thrown away.
If this doesn't happen the crickets start to feed on anything around which in most cases is the lizards faeces.
Crickets may then be either eaten by the lizards or taken out and possibly kept for a future meal!
If cysts are present they will have been ingested by the cricket and then reingested by the lizards and so a vicious circle begins.
Gecko's become very thin and poorly quickly, they eat and eat but cannot retain the weight and usually within days they die, it is a terrible thing to see.

I'm not sure that I have helped at all, I just thought that I would share my experience.
I hope that the rest of your piggy family stay healthy and well.
 

Pebble

Banned
Joined
Oct 12, 2009
Messages
3,030
Reaction score
1,489
Points
880
Location
Sussex
WILL IT SPREAD
Will all the other piggies show symptoms or suffer the same fate as the first two ? Possibly not.

It will depend upon the likely source and whether they were all exposed to a high enough dose to cause clinical symptoms....(typically 100 oocysts is required in humans which is a very a low level compared to other bugs) Harkness and Wagner have a section on crytpo which states that infections are frequently sub-clinical and asymptomatic...and self-limiting in inmmunocompetent animals..Symptoms in guinea pigs are failure to gain weight, water diarrhoea and occasional death....normally in young weanlings.

Unless her piggies have been grazing outside recently, as I said in my previous post I think it most likely to be from raw veggies.......lettuce/spinach/cabbages/greens etc are most likely.....and the outer leaves rather than the inner hearts....so not all would have had an infective dose.

Clover obviously has been exposed to contaminated faeces.......the others in separate cages will probably only have been exposed if they came into contact with the source of the infection (e.g. they ate the same veggies) or there has been cross-contamination between cages from infected poos.

The incubation period is 2-7 days....she first noticed symptoms last friday and as she has adopted barrier methods already she should know the scale of the outbreak from the primary contmaintion route by the middle of the week. The fact that to date only two have shown symptoms so far is encouraging. The clinical symtpoms last from 2 weeks to 4 weeks but shedding of infective oocycysts can occur even if no clinical symtpoms are present and can continue for some weeks even after any clinical symptoms disappear. so if there is cross infection bewteen piggies then it may take up to another week or so for symtpoms to start to appear.

TREATMENT
There aren;t any drugs even in humans) that are routinely used. However I think in view of the (albeit limited) reports....it is worth considering azithromycin for Clover and those with clinical signs. This has obviously been used by your own vet Simon with great success for bacterial infections so we know it is OK for piggies. Suggest you discuss with Simon and your friend and their vet. I don;t think your friend has anything to lose at this point.


Supportive therapy is obviously warmth, fluids (might need to be sub-cut depending upon severity of dehydration) , pro-biotic (I suggest fibreplex as it is both probioitic and fibre so could help firm up the poos) syringe feeding with CC, and Vit C.


DISINFECTION - SURFACES
5% ammonia solution for 20 mins followed by thorough drying - the emphasis here is on the through drying to remove any liquid that would help keep the oocysts alive.

Hydrogen peroxide solution 3% for 10 minutes (you can buy 3%, 6% or 9% solution from chemist direct and others on the internet)

Also china bowls etc could be autoclaved (normally found in a vets practice)


I will have a google to see if there are any new disinfectants on the market that may also be suitable.

DISINFECTION - FABRICS
Also try putting Vanish oxy action EXTRA Hygiene in with any fleese/fabrics etc and washing at 75deg C or above as this utilises hydrogen peroxide


WATER SUPPLY
If you think the infection came from the water supply then you will need to boil the water (might be worth going onto the water company's website and see if they have released any notice to the public)
Ooocysts can be inactivated by temperatures above 65deg C

Bottled water is OK - but it can;t be guaranteed free of oocysts and actually not all bottled water is subject to as rigorous microbial analysis as that our drinking water supply....

VEGGIES
Wash all veggies thoroughly under running water....same goes for any herbage picked in the wild

Think I'll stop now and wait for follow up questions from you or your friend......I will be seeing my vet first thing tomorrow morning with Bandit and Beechie so i will pick his brains and come back later today if I learn anything more.

Keeping my fingers crossed for her that the rest of the piggies will be OK
x

PS Polypea......unfortunately it is the same disease.....and depending on the sepcies of crytpo it can be transferred from your geckos to your piggies (and also to you) so you will need to take great care with hygiene
 
Last edited:

Pebble

Banned
Joined
Oct 12, 2009
Messages
3,030
Reaction score
1,489
Points
880
Location
Sussex
Just needed to clarify about the azithromycin......

As you know, normal gut flora are one of the best defenses against enteric (gut) pathogens and frequently it is a disturbance in the flora (eg by using antibioitics) that triggers opportunistic pathogens. Careful consideration needs to be given as to whether only those showing clinical symptoms should receive the azithromycin as there is a risk that giving it to those without symptoms may actually enable the bug to gain a hold........

One for the vets to discuss I think

x
 

furryfriends (TEAS)

Forum Founder
Forum Donator 2020/21
Joined
Jul 30, 2006
Messages
14,270
Reaction score
15,677
Points
2,225
Location
Director at TEAS (East Hunsbury) Northampton
Thanks everyone for your input so far. Nicky will be looking at all your replies later today.

Pebble, thanks for your comments re Zithromax. Nicky actually works with Simon so she will be able to discuss this with him.
 

Pebble

Banned
Joined
Oct 12, 2009
Messages
3,030
Reaction score
1,489
Points
880
Location
Sussex
Just back from my vets....he has used paromomycin to treat small animals for crytpo and agrees zithromax coud be used as an alternative.

We had quite a long discussion and like me he thinks crypto is an opportunistic infection..(otherwise there would be many more cases)..and that therefore while it may have caused/contributed to the death of the guineas concerned...it may NOT however be the primary pathogen/cause that initially weakened their immune systems and permitted the crypto to gain a hold.


He personally would do some histopathology to check there aren't any other underlying causes ...such as a URI, heart condition, lymphoma, ..and/or just a massive temperature change.

Just for info....(although I'm sure this is not the cause in Nicky;s case). ....many outbreaks of crypto are caused by overcrowding...something for rescues to be aware of perhaps in view of some of the awful situations they find themselves being called to.


HTH
x
 

furryfriends (TEAS)

Forum Founder
Forum Donator 2020/21
Joined
Jul 30, 2006
Messages
14,270
Reaction score
15,677
Points
2,225
Location
Director at TEAS (East Hunsbury) Northampton
Message from Nicky!


A big thanks to everyone who has replied to my post for their kindness, time and advice. So far all piggies remain fine including clover (who has never shown any symptoms) she is also becoming more used to being on her own and eating better. I am reluctant to wade in with the Zithromax at this stage as no one has symptoms.

Perhaps the two I lost were already immune compromised in some way, although appeared healthy and combined with the cold snap it pushed them over the edge? A little odd given their age, but I guess just one of those things and will probably never know the whole story. I have quite a few geriatric pigges who I would have thought would have been more at risk but am very pleased to say are all pottering around as usual.

I feed a lot veg daily, so can only assume this was the sorce, will wash all veg much more thoroughly in the future, however clean it looks. If veg was the source I guess everyone has been exposed. now it is a waiting game.

Pebble, can you clarify when it will be safe to put clover in with other guineas?
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top