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Old 02-03-2009, 04:19 PM United States
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Default Merck Veterinary Manual - Chinchillas - Integumentary Diseases

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Dermatophytosis (Ringworm):
Fungal skin infections in chinchillas are infrequent. The most commonly isolated dermatophyte is Trichophyton mentagrophytes ; Microsporum spp are seen occasionally. Outbreaks of active disease in colonies may accompany the introduction of a new chinchilla. Small patchy areas of alopecia are seen mostly around the ears, nose, and feet, but can be found on any part of the body. Lesions are characterized by irregular or circular-shaped, crusty, flaky skin lesions with reddened margins. Transmission is by direct contact or by fomites, such as cage bedding. Diagnosis is based on lesions, Woodís lamp examination, and by isolation of the causative agent in or on infected hairs. Some animals may be asymptomatic carriers. Effective treatment consists of 5-6 wk of oral griseofulvin or itraconazole. Griseofulvin is teratogenic in other species and should be avoided in pregnant females. Isolated skin lesions may be treated effectively with topical griseofulvin, tolnaftate, or butenafine creams applied daily for 7-10 days. Antifungal powders may be added to the chinchillaís dust bath. Prevention includes decreasing potential for stress, culling affected stock from colonies, quarantine of new additions to colonies, and adequate sanitation. Ringworm is contagious to humans and other animals.

Abscesses in chinchillas may occur secondary to bite wounds or other trauma. Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus spp are the most common bacteria isolated. An abscess may remain hidden under the animalís thick coat and only become evident after it ruptures. Ruptured abscesses should be expressed to empty remaining contents and flushed with antiseptic solution. Appropriate topical antibiotic creams may be applied as needed. Unruptured abscesses can be surgically removed and appropriate parenteral antibiotics administered. Abscesses removed surgically often heal better than those that are lanced, drained, and flushed.

Fur Chewing:
Currently thought to be an abnormal behavior, chinchillas chew their own or each otherís fur, resulting in a moth-eaten appearance. The phenomenon is reported to occur in 30% of chinchillas. Factors that may be related to the pathogenesis include boredom, stress, malnutrition, warm or drafty environments, or increased thyroid and adrenocortical activity. Fur-chewing mothers tend to pass this disorder to their offspring, and affected chinchillas usually have a nervous disposition. Clinically, hair loss is observed along the shoulders, flanks, sides, and paws. The affected areas appear darker due to the exposed underfur. A variety of approaches to control the behavior has been attempted, including decreasing room humidity and temperature and removing the darker underfur from affected areas and applying povidone-iodine ointment to the skin for disinfection and facilitation of scale removal. Identifiable stressors should be minimized. Papaya cubes or tablets may help prevent trichobezoar formation and potential intestinal blockage.
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