A Flesh-Rotting Bacterial
Infection in a Syrian Hamster
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
06 July, 2011
E-MAIL TO DR SING DATED JUN
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
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
Three hamster patients
waiting to go home
Syrian hamster bitten by
another. A flesh-rotting
bacterial infection forms
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.
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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.