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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My rats have reoccurring URIs, and I feel really bad. My vet says it's because I've been using aspen in their digging box and have wooden toys. I feel really bad about it. She said that all wood shavings were bad, not just cedar and pine, but she really didn't know what aspen was at first. They keep on getting these URIs, so I'm thinking - maybe it's mycoplasmosis? She said it's concerning because they've been in several times and seem to be reinfecting themselves somehow. This would make so much sense to me if it was mycoplasmosis, but the vet has never said that's what this is. I have a course of baytril for them, but I almost feel like they need to be on it for the long haul. They're about six months old now.
 

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I switched from wood to old bathroom towels. They fit over the levels of the cage and I just tuck the ends under the level so the girls can't crawl under the towel. Makes it easy to pick out poops too. And every few days I pop out the dirty towels and put them through the laundry. One of my girls had a skin reaction to the detergent so now I use Tide Free and Gentle. The towels have the benefit of not coming with wood particles or mites that are sometimes shipped in the bag of wood shavings. And it is cost effective as you don't have to spend money on bags of shavings. Towels are also soft to snuggle into and so on.
 

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I'm sorry, but your vet seems a little out of the loop on rats. They don't get myco from bedding nor do they reinfect themselves from it (unless it's a secondary infection from objects in the cage). Pretty much all rats except rats born in laboratories have myco; whether it remains a latent infection or not is a different story. Think of it as the rat form of tuberculosis (also a mycobacterium); you can treat it, but it's never really gone, only latent, which means it can flare up again. Some rats are more prone to multiple infections and the more they have the more susceptible they become due to lung damage from previous illnesses. Unless you just switched to aspen and that's when all of this started or you switched brands and the new one is dusty, there's no reason to think it's the bedding causing the flare ups. In case the recurring infections are secondary, you need to take everything apart/out and sanitize it with bleach. Throw any wooden toys away (or freeze/bake them if that's an option) and get new ones after you think their illness has subsided. If you can take your cage apart, do that as well. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but it's worth it to keep them healthy.
 

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My girl, Neera, has been having reoccuring URI's since January. I've been through multiple medications (Baytril, Sulfamethoxazole suspension, and a course of nebulizing liquid), all of which has helped to some degree. The baytril would be effective to a point, then it would all return. The sulfamethoxazole would keep it at bay, but it wouldn't really help her feel better. The nebulizing was the most effective, and the last medication she used. However, the nebulizing still didn't clear the sneezing, which was the point of using it. Neera still sneezes, and has for about two months. Lately, she's been sneezing harder, and I have no idea what to do about it...

I have a suggestion. I've heard of using baytril and amoxicilin together, but I haven't tried it yet. You may want to look into that and specifically ask your vet for these medicines. My vet is actually not an exotics vet, which is why I've gone through medicines you don't really hear about on here. The thing is though, she'll listen to me, and if I asked her to try a certain medicine, she would. If your vet is not very knowledgeable, then try to make up for it by being knowledgeable yourself. If she refuses to listen to you, find a new vet.
 

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In case the recurring infections are secondary, you need to take everything apart/out and sanitize it with bleach. Throw any wooden toys away (or freeze/bake them if that's an option) and get new ones after you think their illness has subsided. If you can take your cage apart, do that as well. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but it's worth it to keep them healthy.
Hi,

I'm really interested in learning more about what you mean by a secondary infection. Can you explain a bit more or direct me to a reference so I can read up on it? I want to learn more about URIs as my two have had a recurring infection for awhile now too. Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It also wasn't really used as bedding, either. Just in their digging box for the most part. I use fabric to line the cage. She is actually a really good vet with rats of her own. I've just never heard of wood being a bad thing, I guess, except for the given that pine and cedar are bad.
 

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Hi,I'm really interested in learning more about what you mean by a secondary infection. Can you explain a bit more or direct me to a reference so I can read up on it? I want to learn more about URIs as my two have had a recurring infection for awhile now too. Thanks!
To understand secondary infections, you first have to understand the primary infection. Mycoplasma pulmonis, which most of our rats carry, is a latent infection which means that while your rat is infected, its immune system is working to keep it in check. If something happens that stresses your rat or it's exposed to some other bacteria that it must fight, the immune system diverts its attention so to speak and the myco could be less controlled. As the immune system works to control this sudden surge in myco population, it is vulnerable to other infections mostly from other resident bacteria that take advantage of the moment but also from outside sources as well. I think that the main reasons single antibiotics are not effective in rats are because 1. bacteria mutate rapidly and any leftover from a previous infection could be antibiotic resistant and 2. it's likely that you're fighting more than one bacteria. For these reasons, I never treat with just one antibiotic. As far as how your cage and the things in it can hinder recovery or cause reinfection if the bacteria is something other than myco, there are lots of little places for bacteria to hide. Wood, soft rubber or cloth toys should be either bleached, boiled or laundered with hot water and bleach. My belief when it comes to things I put into my cages is that if it can't be cleaned in a way that I know will kill bacteria then it doesn't belong in the cage or I have to be ok with throwing it away and replacing it. You should also be frequently disinfecting your water sources.I'm by no means an expert on this stuff, but speak from experience and the knowledge my degree and job have provided me. Others may have better ideas or information.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
To understand secondary infections, you first have to understand the primary infection. Mycoplasma pulmonis, which most of our rats carry, is a latent infection which means that while your rat is infected, its immune system is working to keep it in check. If something happens that stresses your rat or it's exposed to some other bacteria that it must fight, the immune system diverts its attention so to speak and the myco could be less controlled. As the immune system works to control this sudden surge in myco population, it is vulnerable to other infections mostly from other resident bacteria that take advantage of the moment but also from outside sources as well. I think that the main reasons single antibiotics are not effective in rats are because 1. bacteria mutate rapidly and any leftover from a previous infection could be antibiotic resistant and 2. it's likely that you're fighting more than one bacteria. For these reasons, I never treat with just one antibiotic. As far as how your cage and the things in it can hinder recovery or cause reinfection if the bacteria is something other than myco, there are lots of little places for bacteria to hide. Wood, soft rubber or cloth toys should be either bleached, boiled or laundered with hot water and bleach. My belief when it comes to things I put into my cages is that if it can't be cleaned in a way that I know will kill bacteria then it doesn't belong in the cage or I have to be ok with throwing it away and replacing it. You should also be frequently disinfecting your water sources.I'm by no means an expert on this stuff, but speak from experience and the knowledge my degree and job have provided me. Others may have better ideas or information.
What is your opinion on lava rocks? I still haven't figured out how to clean them beyond just wiping them off, and they're sort of expensive to replace every month.
 

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Not sure what kind of lava rocks you use, but I'd soak them in hot soapy water and then test out baking them. As long as they don't make your oven smell funky I think that's the best option. You could also throw them into a pot of boiling water, boil for about 15 minutes and then let them cool in the pot. Suppose all that depends on how you and whoever you may share a home with feel about rat things in the kitchen; I have a pot devoted to boiling animal stuff.
 
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