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Guinea Pig Respiratory Illness Can Be Contracted From Human Common Colds And It Can Kill!

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Lou2z

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I wanted to share this information as it could save somebody the heartache that my family have been through this past couple of weeks. It is possible for guinea pigs to contract the common cold from us and if untreated it can kill them. Our first guinea pig started sounding rattly on Saturday evening. We were going to take her to the vet, but sadly she'd passed away early Sunday morning. Our second piggy died suddenly a week later having shown no apparent signs of illness. We made an emergency appointment and took the remaining piggies to the vet who confirmed they had a respiratory illness. She was brilliant. She gave them antibiotics and (touch wood) they seem fine. The vet said that guinea pigs are good at hiding this type of illness and by the time we realise they are ill, it can be too late. Now I know the signs I will always check them closely. If you hold your piggy to your ear and hear any sort of noise other than the heartbeat and normal breathing, please get help for your pet. If you have a cold or any other illness please take great care not to breathe over your little friend (and make sure you have clean hands). We were devastated to lose Stampy just before Christmas, then Leigh just after. We'd all been ill and now I know they can contract colds from us, I'm horrified that I found out this information too late. Any tiny rasping sound should be treated straight away. Don't wait until it's too late x
 

Veggies Galore

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I am so sorry about your loss. I wasn't aware that guinea pigs could catch a human cold . I am grateful that you have brought this to our attention as it is so important to remind us to be careful.
As you say yourself, any tiny rasping sound should be treated straight away.
 

sport_billy

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I'm really sorry but this isn't your fault as others have said above, please don't blame yourself at all. Huge hugs x
 

Pebble

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I too am sorry for your loss.
This isn;t your fault and they certainly didn't contract a human cold virus from yourselves such as rhinovirus, parainfluenza, etc as these are species-specific.

There is only one respiratory virus documented that causes problems in guinea pigs and that is a particular type of adenovirus that doesn't cause colds in humans..

As already stated, respiratory illness in piggies is more likely to be bacterial in nature (streptococcus, pasteurella, bordatella being the most common)

You have made a very good point that observation is key and even tiny changes in breathing need to be acted upon quickly as these little furballs can go downhill very quickly.

However, I would re-iterate - they didn't catch your cold and this wasn't your fault.

Sending you hugs
x
 

piggie smitten

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Are you 100% certain they cant catch our colds.? My partners got a particularly stubborn cold at the moment and hes been avoiding cuddle time with the boys, It would be nice if he could stop worrying.
 

Pippy & Daisy

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@piggie smitten I asked my vet about this when I was ill and he said it's extremely unlikely for a guinea pig to catch a human cold as ours are mostly viruses whilst theirs are bacterial, so I don't think you or your partner have anything to worry about. But to be on the safe side just make sure to wash your hands well before touching them or their food and to not breathe too close to their faces, but it would be fine for him to have cuddle time with them :)
 

Veggies Galore

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Are you 100% certain they cant catch our colds.? My partners got a particularly stubborn cold at the moment and hes been avoiding cuddle time with the boys, It would be nice if he could stop worrying.

I don't think they can catch a human cold it's better to be safe than sorry. I keep contact with mine to a minimum when I have a cold - just to be on the safe side . I think the advice given by Lou2z is very wise - make sure your hands are always clean and don't breathe on your guineas when you have a cold.
 

Lou2z

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Thank you so much for all your kind words. I'm not sure which is exactly the right answer. Maybe it wasn't the cold virus which was passed on but bacteria from the sinus infection which I developed a couple of weeks into having the cold. I couldn't understand how they could have been so ill when they were kept inside. What ever the reason, thank you all for telling me not to blame myself and please be vigilant with your piggies. A happy and healthy new year to you all. Love, Lou x
 

Lou2z

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20141024_165922.jpg 20141007_181442.jpg 20141015_201946.jpg 20141024_165705.jpg My piggies. The top 2 are Leigh and Stampy who sadly passed away. The other little cuties are Aimee and Rosie.
 

Wiebke

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I am very sorry for your loss; what a sad shock! Generally, viruses and also many bacterial infections are species specific and do not cross from humans to guinea pigs. It can just have been a sad coincidence, which of course is very upsetting for you in any case! URI can sadly strike very quickly and kill in a very short time, but this happens irrespective of whether a human as a cold or not.

We do however encourage our members to seek vet care very promptly with a URI and to also use good common sense and hygiene when they are ill with a bug (that also goes for norovirus as well as respiratory infections). It is more important than ever to wash and disinfect the hands thoroughly before feeding and to keep handling and contact to a minimum. I find F10 hand gel in these cases very useful. ;)
 

AuntyC

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I am very sorry to hear year sad news. I am just starting with a cold, so will take all the above advice on board and try to keep things hygienic, especially when cleaning my foster piggies out and at feeding and grooming times. It will be hard as they live indoors in our one and only living room! Might be better if I spend as much time upstairs or out of the house altogether this week. Thanks for posting the pictures too.
 
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