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Date:   06 July, 2011  
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, turtles & rabbits
 
A Flesh-Rotting Bacterial Infection in a Syrian Hamster
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
Date:   06 July, 2011  
E-MAIL TO DR SING DATED JUN 30, 2011

Dear Dr. Sing,

I have called in earlier to make an appointment. The patient is a 14 month old Syrian hamster, Quickie who has this abscess near her left arm. The abscess was formed after she was bitten by another syrian hamster and the abscess have since ! then emitted this pungent odor. Quickie have lost some weight ( compared to the picture of her on the bed) although she still does eat.

Meanwhile, Quickie no longer runs on her favorite wheel like she used to. I would like to seek your advise on how to prepare her for a surgery and is there a possibility that Gangrene or Necrosis has occurred due to the pungent odor? In the meantime, what will be the estimated cost of her surgery and what are her chances of making it through the surgery.

E-MAIL REPLY FROM DR SING DATED JUL 3, 2011
Pl accept my apology for the late reply which I read during the day your hamster came. The lump was large and full of dead cells and small tumours as well as the strong rotten smell of flesh. Therefore at least 3 cm of the skin incision had to be done.
 
3 hamsters - syrian, syrian, roborovoski - patients, Toa Payoh Vets, waiting to go home after surgery. June, 2011, Singapore tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)4276. Three hamster patients waiting to go home
syrian hamster, bite wound, rotten smell. toapayohvets, singapore syrian hamster, bite wound, decomposing flesh rotten smell. toapayohvets, singapore syrian hamster, bite wound, rotten smell. toapayohvets, singapore
  tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)4277 - 4279. Syrian hamster bitten by another. A flesh-rotting bacterial infection forms quickly.

Pl do not forget to give the hamster her antibiotics as the bacteria is a type that produces bad-smelling gases. She may need stitches to be removed in 14 days if they don't dissolve by themselves at that time.

Best wishes.


E-MAIL REPLY TO DR SING DATED JUL 4, 2011
Dear Dr. Sing,

I have fed her antibiotics and the Biolapes (the packet of powdery med. which was mixed with 50ml of water and fed at 0.5ml twice per day, did I get this right?) Anyway, I came down to the clinic earlier to get another syringe of Prednisolone as I spilled it while feeding her the other day. This vet Vanessa attended to me and told me that it would not be advisable to feed her that as its a kind of 'steroid'.

Thus, I am writing to you to confirm the dosage again. While Quickie is getting better, as she do get up and walk around and eat.. I am pretty worried about the wound as I can still smell a little bit of that odor although there are no longer any signs of bleeding. However, Quickie kinda 'urinated blood' but no longer do anymore. Why is this happening?

Thank you very much Dr. Sing, Quickie means a lot to me and I am really thankful for your help.


E-MAIL REPLY FROM DR SING DATED JUL 5, 2011
Best to telephone me direct rather than text as medical queries are best answered directly as text messages may be mis-interpreted.

As every vet has his or her own treatment based on many factors especially practical experience over the years as compared to the academic teachings of professors to recent veterinary graduates, the rationale of using drugs such as prednisolone which is a steroid in your hamster post-operation, is best explained to you, the owner, directly by phone.

As for passing "blood", the colour of urine is due to the pigments from the hamster grooming herself of blood stains post-op. being absorbed and passed out in the urine. If there is still smell in the wound and you are concerned, please bring the hamster for review as your case was a bad case of flesh-rotting bacteria multiplying inside the wound due to hamster bite.

Please feel free to contact me by phone or make an appointment to see me. I consult usually in the mornings, except on Saturdays but may be available in the afternoons sometimes.

I don't usually reply by text via my phone when detailed explanations are required as in this case.

UPDATE AS AT JULY 5, 2011  5 PM
July 5, 2011. The young lady returned my call at 5 pm. Her hamster is OK and eating selectively. "My hamster is not biting the stitches. She can't reach it." the lady said. That is good news. However, the hamster can always rub against some areas if it is itchy and the stitches will break down.

"There is a faint bad smell in the hamster," she said. I advised: "Take a piece of facial cotton. Wet it in warm water. Then wipe gently the surrounding skin as the rotting flesh smell had stained the skin and it was not possible to wipe all away during surgery. Use another piece of cotton to dry up the area."  

As regards prednisolone, I told her (and also Dr Vanessa Lin in my Surgery) that a very small drop/day (around 0.001 ml of 5mg/ml) for 7 days will help the hamster to feel less painful, promotes appetite and prevents stitch biting, from my experience.

"All vet students have had been warned by their professors not to use 'steroid'" post-surgery and in infections and so all graduate with this warning, including myself who graduated some 40 years ago," I said to Dr Vanessa. The professors have their theories but in practice, the realities of the hamster ripping off its stitches are horrifying and costly to the hamster owner.

As regards stitches dissolving, I told the owner that the stitches will dissolve and drop off usually after 14 days. If not, she has to come for stitch removal.

The young lady will not house her hamster next to each other, separated by a grate, anymore.

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