Rat/Mice Diseases - Mousepox Ectromelia

  • Mousepox infection is a highly contagious viral disease of mice.
  • It is caused by ectromelia virus. Ectromelia means imperfection or absence of limb.
  • The ectromelia virus belongs to the family Poxviridae, subgroup Vaccinia genus Orthopoxvirus and consists of double stranded DNA.
  • The virus is relatively stable in dry conditions, and has a latent period of about 10 days for infection to development of skin lesions and shedding of the virus into the environment.
  • Mice are the only natural host of the virus.
  • Pet mice are rarely infected unless they came from a colony where the members were infected. Thus it is important to get your pet from a reliable source.
  • The infection is transmitted through contact with contaminated feces or urine, or direct contact with wounds in the skin
  • Infection is diagnosed through blood tests.

    • Symptoms:
    • Mice infected with ectromelia vary from asymptomatic to acute to chronic.
    • The acute (sudden onset) form of mousepox affects the entire body.
    • Affected mice lack energy and may have a hunched posture, rough hair coat, diarrhea, inflammation of the eyes, and swelling of the face.
    • Death often follows.
    • Another form of the disease causes infected mice to develop a body-wide skin rash.
    • The skin becomes swollen and wounds appear on its surface.
    • Because of the resulting pain, afflicted mice begin to chew on themselves, even to the point of amputating toes.
    • There is no specific treatment for this infection.
    • Consult your veterinarian regarding supportive care for an infected mouse and control of the disease.