Rat/Mice Diseases - Staphylococcal Infection

Staphylococcal Infection in Rats
  • This infection is caused by bacteria that are commonly found on the skin of most animals, including rat and mice.
  • Infection occurs when the skin is damaged by scratching or bites wounds.
  • When the immune system of the rat and mice is compromised as a result of disease or other stressful conditions, staphylococcal numbers can flare up.
  • The staphylococcal infection gets progressively worse when the pet keeps scratching at any injured part of the body.
  • Although this infection can occur in many species besides rats and mice including humans -- it has not been found to be transmissible to humans by rats and mice.
  • Rats and mice can acquire the infection from soiled bedding, or from coming into contact with infected urine or feces.
  • Cages with wire mesh flooring have been implicated in increasing the incidence of foot lesions and subsequent infections of the foot.

    • Symptoms:
    • Inflamed skin and sores on the head and neck
    • Formation of abscesses (pus filled swellings), which in turn may enlarge and spread under the skin to form lumps (tumors) around the face and head
    • Ulcers or pus filled bumps on feet (ulcerative pododermatitis or bumblefoot)
    • Intense itching/scratching of affected areas
    • Swollen belly due to internal swelling.

    • You should not try to drain an abscess on your own, since there is a danger of pushing the infected fluid deeper into the body, rather than out of the body. This could lead to sepsis (a blood infection) which is a fatal condition.
    • You will need to take your rat and mice to your veterinarian, who will drain the pus from the wound, irrigate the wound, and dress appropriately it to prevent further damage by the pet.
    • It will also be necessary to use medication in the form of topical antibiotics containing steroids, to treat staphylococcal infections and oral antibiotic treatment to be sure that your rat and mice makes a complete recovery.

    • The primary preventative is to maintain excellent hygiene at all times.
    • Cleaning your pets' living environment on a daily basis, clearing all urine, feces, and spilled food all of which can harbor the staphylococcus bacterium.
    • Take care to treat fight wounds and other open wounds promptly so that secondary bacterial infection due to the entry of staphylococcal bacteria does not arise. If treated quickly and appropriately, these wounds can remain non-threatening.
    • Providing proper care and nutrition and avoiding stress to your pet can also help to prevent staphylococcal infection.
    • It is important to have a policy of always cleaning your hands thoroughly, in addition to changing your clothing before handling rats and mice from different locations.
    • In order to prevent further damage caused by scratching, the toenails of the back feet should be clipped.