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Pneumonia in the Hamster.

Pneumonia is the second most significant disease seen in hamsters, second only to diarrhoea. There are many possible causes. Pneumonia in hamsters may be due to bacteria, viruses or mycoplasma or a combination of all three.

Pneumonia in hamsters causes them to have difficulty breathing and this extra respiratory effort will be noticed by the owner. There will probably be a nasal discharge and the hamster will stop eating. The disease usually has an acute onset.

Sendai virus has been implicated in pneumonia of hamsters. This is more of a problem in mice but the virus can infect hamsters. It generally causes no problem in adult hamsters but may cause death in young hamsters under three weeks of age. Infection with this virus may make the hamster more susceptible to secondary bacterial infection.

Bacteria involved in hamster pneumonia include Pastuerella pneumotropica and Streptococcus pneumoniae these bacteria are found in healthy hamsters and humans so it may be that environmental stress allows them to cause disease. Stress may be due to factors such as fluctuations in temperature or underlying viral disease such as infection with sendai virus. Treatment for bacterial pneumonia will require antibiotics. Your vet may want to try to culture the bacteria causing the disease in your hamster so that he or she can find out which antibiotic is most suitable.

Mycoplasma pneumonias are rarely diagnosed in hamsters.

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