What is myco?
Mycoplasma pulmonis, also know as “myco”, is an organism found in pet rats and mice that cause most respiratory and genital infections in rats. There are two different strains of myco that effect rats and mice: Mycoplasma pulmonis and Mycoplasma arthritidis; M. pulmonis being the most common cause of respiratory and genital infections
How do rats and mice contract myco?
Almost all pet rats and mice carry Mycoplasma pulmonis in the upper respiratory system. Myco can be spread to other rats and mice via direct contact between mother and babies, through the air at short distances or by sexual transfer. Mycoplasma pulmonis is not contagious to humans.
What are the symptoms of myco?
Symptoms of myco include sniffling, sneezing, rough coat, chattering, weight loss, lethargy, hunched posture, porphyrin staining and/or labored breathing. Untreated myco will often lead to pneumonia and can put the animal at risk for secondary infections such as Sendai virus and SDA (Sialodacryoadenitis). Eventually the animal will die if not treated.
How can myco be treated?
Treatment of myco consists of a course of antibiotics to suppress the infection and symptoms. There is no cure or vaccine for mycoplasma pulmonis at this time. Symptoms must be caught early in order for antibiotics to work, however since myco never leaves the body the condition will most likely reoccur requiring periodic or constant treatment.
A variety of antibiotics are generally prescribed to treat myco. Dosages vary by weight and should be determined by your veterinarian. A list of effective antibiotics includes:
* Enrofloxacin (Baytril)
* Prednisone (for advanced stages of myco with inner ear inflammation)
* Aminophylline (for advanced stages of myco with pneumonia)
How can myco infections be prevented?
Myco flare-ups can be prevented by housing your rats and mice in clean and well ventilated cages, keeping them in a stress-free environment and keeping them on safe bedding (no pine or cedar). Always quarantine a new rat for at least two weeks (particularly those living in the US) to ensure the spread of an unknown existing myco infection does not occur. Early treatment and good breeding practices also play an important role in prevention of myco.