The symptoms of SDAV vary between rats, between strains of the virus, but they include:
- Sensitivity to light
- Porphyrin staining
- Symptoms of secondary infections such as sneezing, chest noises, pneumonia
- Swellings around the neck.
- Bulging of eyes.
- Porphyrin staining, bleeding, or discoloration of tissue around the eyes in some cases
- Deaths in the rattery
SDAV is a highly contagious virus, alone it is not fatal but it weakens the immune system allowing secondary infections to take hold and often kill the rat.
The disease is spread through contact with food, bedding, cages, cage accessories, carriers, human skin, clothing and other objects used or touched by infected rats. The virus may possibly so be carried in the mucous membranes of humans which can contribute to the spread of this illness. It can survive up to 2 days away from it's host.
Rats will begin to show symptoms as early as 5 days but as late as two weeks, symptoms of secondary infections may show sooner or later depending on the infection. It it important to note that not all rats infected with SDAV will show symptoms.
There is no treatment for SDAV itself and, actually, this is not needed. However, aggressive blanket treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics at the maximum possible doses for 3-4 weeks should be given to reduce the number of deaths in your group or rattery. Topical eye treatments are helpful to increase the rats' comfort.
Keep affected rats clean, warm and away from bright lighting. Provide extra fluid (offer Dr Squiggles or herbal teas to encourage extra fluid intake) and nutritional support (offer tasty, high calorie food and consider giving the brown rice booster.)
We urge everyone to employ proper quarantine as standard, but it is especially important during a virus outbreak. See here for information on effective quarantining.
When cleaning second hand cages or anything that may have come into contact with infected rats use any normal household disinfectant and for hammocks wash at temperatures of 85C or over.
If you get this infection in your rats, then avoid all contact with other rats or rat owners for 6-8 weeks after the last rat became infected. It is recommended not to try to quarantine within your own rats as this is complicated and often only prolongs the oubreak. With prompt and adequate antibiotic treatment most rats will survive this.
If anyone has an outbreak of this virus or suspects an outbreak please pm FRA as soon as possible with details of the infection, where you and your rats have been, whether you have taken in any other rats recently and whether you or your rats have been in contact with other rats recently. This is so that we can accurately pass information between rat clubs to try and curb the outbreak. All pms will be treated in the strictest confidence, your name will not be passed on with the information.
For more information about the virus and possible antibiotics please see The Rat Guide and the NFRS article.