Guinea Pig Mange

 

by Barbara Eddie, Veterinary Nurse

 

Mange is a skin disease caused by a burrowing mite (called Sellnick mite) which triggers severe itching.

Symptoms normally take 3-5 weeks to show although sometimes guinea pigs can remain symptomless for considerable periods. However they will act as healthy carriers of the disease. In cases of stress, e.g. pregnancy, change of environment, other concurrent diseases or old age, the mite will start multiplying and symptoms will occur.

 

The first signs of the disease are usually a thinning coat, with dandruff and itching. Initial symptoms occur around the groin, shoulders and around the neck, head and front legs. Later the itching, hair loss and skin irritation increases. The guinea pig bites and scratches itself leading to self-trauma which worsens the open sores leading to the spread all over the body. Eventually the guinea pig is unable to eat (resulting in weight loss) or sleep because of the pain. The itching may also cause convulsions, which look similar to epileptic seizures. If untreated the guinea pig will finally die.


 

Zion and Felineas - Guinea Pigs belonging to Barbara

 


To treat mange your guinea pig should be taken to a veterinarian who will make a diagnosis from microscopic examination of skin scrapings. Ivermectin is the treatment of choice to cure mange and is easy and more efficient then previous drugs. After a few hours the guinea pig will stop scratching. You will notice that the wounds will heal , scabs will dry out and fall off, and new hairs will grow. The pig will quickly gain weight again.

All guinea pigs in a household should be treated. Humans and other animals are not infected. Mange is very life-threatening in pregnant sows as they may develop toxaemia with few or no visible skin symptoms. Therefore, it is important to treat all pigs, and not exclude the pregnant ones. The risk for the sow is much bigger if left untreated.

 

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