Zoonotic Risk: Dermatophytoses in Guinea Pigs

Attention, it itches! Trichophyton benhamiae has spread massively in guinea pigs. Small mammals have thus replaced cats as the most common carrier of skin fungi to humans.

Children in particular are infected with skin fungi when cuddling with their pets. Scaling, circular patches on the skin that itch and are inflamed and red at the edges are typical.

Microsporum canis used to be the most common filamentous fungus transmitted by animals (especially cats). But since around 2013, Trichophyton benhamiae has taken the top spot. This pathogen is mostly transmitted by guinea pigs.

Trichophyton benhamiae is widespread in guinea pigs

The prevalence of T. benhamiae in guinea pigs is between 50 and 90 percent, with wholesale animals appearing to be particularly badly affected. In a 2016 study by the Charitè in Berlin pet shops, T. benhamiae was detected in over 90 percent of the guinea pigs tested. In a subsequent study, guinea pigs in 21 German private breeders were sampled in 2019; over half were infected.

Almost 90 percent of the infected animals from both studies were asymptomatic carrier animals

The authors warn: “Dermatophytoses must be taken seriously! The current situation requires an open approach to the topic, both from the point of view of zoonosis and to protect animal welfare.” They give practical recommendations for diagnostics and therapy:

  • Diagnostics: Sampling using the McKenzie brush technique and molecular biological detection in the laboratory are recommended. Cave: T. benhamiae is not visible in the light of Wood’s lamp.
  • Therapy: Symptomatic animals should be treated locally with enilconazole and additionally systemically with itraconazole. Asymptomatic animals are only treated locally with enilconazole.
  • Simultaneous environmental disinfection with itraconazole or chlorine bleach and hygiene measures are crucial.

Frequently Asked Question

What is mange in guinea pigs?

Guinea pig mange (also known as sarcoptic mange) is a parasitic skin disease in guinea pigs that is associated with severe itching and severe skin changes.

What does skin fungus look like in guinea pigs?

Scaly, circular patches on the skin, which are particularly reddened and reddened at the edges, itchy, and sometimes accompanied by pustules: these can be signs of skin infection with filamentous fungi.

What do bald spots in guinea pigs mean?

If your guinea pig shows bald patches (except behind the normal ears), this can indicate a fungal infestation. Going back to the vet. Sometimes guinea pigs scrape all their hair off, for example, if they have pain in their stomach under the bald spot.

How long does fungal treatment in guinea pigs take?

The site(s) are often covered with a whitish veil, scaly (scaly), sore, or even oozing, resembling a wound. The veterinarian makes the exact diagnosis based on the clinical picture and by creating a culture (skin scraping or hair sample), but this usually takes a good week.

What can you do if your guinea pig has scales?

In the case of a light infestation, treatment with kieselguhr mite powder can be tried without veterinary advice. If the guinea pig already has severe itching, bald spots, scabs, or other signs of severe infestation, a visit to the vet is essential.

What do guinea pig parasites look like?

Biting lice (belonging to the animal lice) are particularly common in guinea pigs. They can be seen with the naked eye as small white to yellowish spots and affect the whole animal. The animals show itching, restlessness, hair loss, and skin lesions.

What does mite infestation look like in guinea pigs?

If bloody spots and crusting can also be seen on the bald spots, the probability that your rodent has guinea pig mites is extremely high. These incrustations are often found on the inside of the thighs, on the shoulders, or in the neck area of the guinea pig.

Can guinea pigs transmit disease to humans?

However, very few animal lovers know that their pet is not only cute but can also transmit diseases or parasites. Cats, dogs, and guinea pigs in particular pass on salmonella, worms, and fleas to humans – with sometimes devastating consequences. How to protect yourself!

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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