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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 28439
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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Can guinea pigs contact myxo from pet rats?

Customer Question

Can guinea pigs contact myxo from pet rats?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 11 months ago.

Mycoplasma pulmonis of rats isn't commonly recognized in guinea pigs but Streptococcus pneumoniae can be shared by both animals. We can experimentally infect guinea pigs with Mycoplasma pulmonis but it doesn't appear to be a naturally occurring infection. Mycoplasma was first identified in guinea pigs in 1970. Please see here:

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I have a rescue rat who I have had for a little over a week. I took him to the vet for an upper respiratory when I got him. He has been on doxycycline since then. I am just wondering how concerned I should be about my guinea pig contacting myco or whatever organism is causing the rats respiratory issues. Does the fact that he has been on abx make him less contagious? They are in the same room, different cages obviously, the rat is very curious about the guinea pig now that he is less congested and can actually smell. I am wondering when and if they can ever meet each other. My vet said he wasn't sure.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 11 months ago.

Because this rat may carry other infectious agents than Mycoplasma that could infect the guinea pig such as Strep as I mentioned above, it would be prudent to not have them in the same room. Practically speaking, the rat has already exposed the guinea pig to whatever the rat has and so separating them at this time is likely to be a moot point. Antibiotic therapy may reduce shedding of an infectious agent, yes. It's difficult for me to be too specific because we don't know which infectious agents are affecting the rat. It's not unusual to have more than one infectious agent in the respiratory disease complex of rats. The rat will remain a carrier of at least Mycoplasma for life but Mycoplasma isn't an issue in guinea pigs. Strep should be our main concern and I don't have studies that tell me how likely that bacteria is to infect your guinea pig. When you say "meet" do you mean in the same cage? That isn't something I would do. The closest I would let them get is being in the same room.

Please continue our conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
By meet, I mean let the rat sit on my shoulder while the guinea pig is on my lap. Does doxycycline treat strep? Is it a broad spectrum abx?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 11 months ago.

Yes, doxycycline can be an effective antibiotic against strep. It's not considered the best choice against strep, however. Penicillins are usually prescribed. It's considered a broad spectrum antibiotic.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
At this point I am showering and changing clothes between handling these 2 animals. Will there be a point where that is not necessary? Does sniffing each other nose to nose make the guinea pig more likely to become ill than being in the same room together already has? I am trying to decide if I need to rehome the rat once he is healthy.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 11 months ago.

Because they've already been breathing the same air, showering and changing clothes at this point isn't helpful. Yes, the closer they are to each other the more likely something will be transmitted between them. I think that rehoming the rat would be very smart.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Thanks for your help!
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 11 months ago.

It's my pleasure. I can't set a follow-up in this venue so please return to our conversation - even after rating - with an update at your convenience. You can bookmark this page for ease of return.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 11 months ago.

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

Dr. Michael Salkin