ISSN 2398-2985      

Conjunctivitis

6guinea pig

Synonym(s): Guinea pig inclusion conjunctivitis, GPIC, Chlamydia Infection


Introduction

  • Cause: Chlamydia caviae (although Streptococcus zooepidemicus, coliforms, Staphylococcus aureus, Pasteurella multocida, Bordetella bronchiseptica, Listeria monocytogenes and Micrococcus spp may also cause, or be concurrent with C. caviae infection). Older texts may cite the causative agent as Chlamydia psittaci although this agent itself has been implicated. Also caused by Vitamin C deficiency. Conjunctivitis may occur unilaterally from corneal trauma. Secondary to keratoconjunctivitis sicca.
  • Signs: reddened conjunctiva, blepharitis, serous to purulent exudate, photophobia.
  • Diagnosis: conjunctival scrapings showing intracytoplasmic inclusions, PCR on conjunctival swabs or scrapings, bacterial cultures.
  • Treatment: may be self-limiting within 3-4 weeks if C. caviae. But, usually treat due to zoonotic potential: topical tetracycline ophthalmic ointment.
  • Prognosis: good although may carry even after clinical signs are eliminated.
Print off the Owner factsheets on Eye problems and Giving your guinea pig a health check to give to your clients.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Chlamydia caviae is the primary infectious cause of guinea pig inclusion conjunctivitis.
  • Older texts list Chlamydia psittaci as a cause.
  • Bacterial infection may also be caused by Streptococcus zooepidemicus, coliforms, Pasteurella multocida, Staphylococcus aureus, Micrococcus spp, Bordetella bronchiseptica Bordetella bronchiseptica, Listeria monocytogenes alone or in combination with C. caviae.
  • Vitamin C deficiency Vitamin C deficiency may also cause conjunctivitis.
  • Secondary to eye trauma, ie foreign body.
  • Secondary to keratoconjunctivitis sicca Keratoconjunctivitis sicca.

Predisposing factors

General

Specific

  • Age stress: 1-3 week old.
  • Breeding animals.

Pathophysiology

  • C. caviae is typical of Chlamydial organisms. It has elementary bodies and reticulate bodies.
  • The elementary body infects a conjunctival epithelial cell by attaching to its surface. The reticulate body initiates metabolic processes within the cell.
  • The elementary bodies fuse with each other within the cell causing intracytoplasmic inclusions.
  • In the cell the elementary bodies are converted to reticulate bodies and replicate by binary fission.
  • The reticulate bodies insert proteins into the inclusion membrane of the host cell.
  • This disruption of epithelial cells in the conjunctiva results in the clinical signs seen.
  • There is infiltration with numerous heterophils.
  • Corneal and scleral calcification may occur with or without simultaneous mineralization elsewhere.

Timecourse

  • Usually rapid as it is passed from adult to juvenile and signs seen as early as 1 week of age.
  • C. caviae can be self-limiting within 3-4 weeks.

Epidemiology

  • Adults may be asymptomatic for C. caviae but infect juveniles.
  • C. caviae has been found in the conjunctiva of rabbits, cats, and humans in homes with infected guinea pigs.
  • C. caviae transmission is primarily venereal with neonates infected at birth.
  • As C. caviae infections may be found in guinea pigs placed in stressful and/or crowded situations such as in a pet store, it is possible that direct contact may be a mode of transmission.
  • Other bacterial causes of conjunctivitis are spread via direct contact with infected animals, fomites, or the environment.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • Hawkins M G & Bishop C R (2012) Disease Problems of Guinea Pigs. In: Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents Clinical Medicine and Surgery. 3d edn. Eds: Quesenberry K E & Carpenter J W. Elsevier. pp 295-310.
  • Harkness J E, Turner P V, VandeWoude S & Wheler C L (2010) Harkness and Wagner's Biology and Medicine of Rabbits and Rodents. 5th edn. Wiley-Blackwell. pp 138.
  • Johnson-Delaney C (2010) Guinea Pigs, Chinchillas, Degus and Duprasi. In: BSAVA Manual of Exotic Pets. 5th edn. Eds: Meredith A & Johnson-Delaney C. British Small Animal Veterinary Association. pp 28-62.
  • Hrapkiewicz K & Medina L (2007) Clinical Laboratory Animal Medicine an introduction. 3rd edn. Blackwell Publishing. pp 168-169.

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