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 Post subject: Safe transportation of rats
 Post Posted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 7:19 pm 
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Fancy Rats Team

Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2011 5:22 pm
Posts: 343
Safe transport guidelines

Moving rats around the country poses an infection risk in two ways;

  • If the rat being moved is carrying an infectious illness it is able to potentially spread it to other rats via the transporters, during the journey if other rats are also being carried and at any 'stop-overs' in homes where other rats live. It is important to remember that a rat can carry an infection without showing any (or only minor) symptoms itself. Obviously infection can also be transferred to any rats at the final destination.
  • Travelling/moving homes might cause vulnerable rats stress which in turn depresses immunity and makes them more susceptible to contracting an infection.

The more ‘legs’ to any one journey the greater the risk of infection being spread. Anyone involved in rescue and transport is at some risk, and we all have a responsibility to keep our own rats and each other’s rats safe.

How is infection spread?
Many of the infections that affect rats are airborne (that is they can spread to any rat who shares the same air space). The bacteria/virus is held in tiny droplets of moisture when sneezed or breathed out by one rat and is then inhaled by another. Another mechanism of spread is by direct contact where an infection passes directly from one animal to another, or it can be passed indirectly via a third party. This means that some infections can be carried on our hands, clothes and belongings.

What factors make a rat vulnerable to infection?
All rats should always be viewed as being at risk of contracting an infection, but some factors do make them more vulnerable:

  • Poor diet lacking in essential nutrients.
  • Stress - unhappy cage relationships, environmental stressors (such as loud, unexpected noise or the presence of predators), fear for any reason, under stimulation.
  • Age – the very young and the very old are more vulnerable to infection.
  • Cancer.
  • Illness, especially chronic background infections.
  • Antibiotics, Metacam and some other medications can reduce digestive health and therefore reduce nutrient absorption.
  • Steroids.
  • Surgery.

Looking at this list it is possible to see why many of the rats who move in and out of rescue situations might be considered vulnerable to infection.


Keeping rats and transport runs safe

Protecting the rats being transported:
Do not get involved at all in moving other rats if you have an active infection amongst your own rats. This would pose a significant risk to vulnerable rats.

Do not bring travelling rats into your own home (or transport them in the same vehicle as your own rats) if you have taken in a new rat of uncertain background – or from someone who doesn’t quarantine themselves - within the previous 2 weeks. This would pose a significant risk to vulnerable rats.

Do not bring travelling rats into your own home (or transport them in the same vehicle as your own rats) if you have had any sudden deaths or acute infectious illnesses (illness in a previously well rat, or sudden worsening in a chronically sick rat) within your rats in the previous two-week period. This would pose a significant risk to vulnerable rats.

Do not bring travelling rats into your own home (or transport them in the same vehicle as your own rats) if you have taken any of your own rats to the vet’s surgery within the preceding 2 weeks. This could pose a moderate risk to vulnerable rats depending on circumstances.

Do not bring travelling rats into your own home (or transport them in the same vehicle as your own rats) if you have been involved in any rat related activity outside of your home (or bringing any rat into your home) during periods of high infection risk within the fancy - when acute infections are affecting a number of people at the same time. This would pose a moderate risk to vulnerable rats.

Do not bring travelling rats into your own home (or transport them in the same vehicle as your own rats) if you have taken in a new rat from a reputable breeder in the past two weeks if they had been to a show in the preceeding two weeks. This would pose a small risk to vulnerable rats.

Do not bring travelling rats into your own home (or transport them in the same vehicle as your own rats) if you have taken in a new rat via a gathering or show within the past two weeks. This would pose a small element of risk to vulnerable rats.

Do not bring travelling rats into your own home (or transport them in the same vehicle as your own rats) if you have been to a rat gathering within the previous two-week period. This would pose a small element of risk to vulnerable rats.

Do keep travelling long distances and stresses to a minimum.

Do try to avoid transport runs that involve many different groups of rats from different sources.

Protecting your own rats:

Do not allow travelling rats to share the same area of your home (or even better the same air space) as your own rats.

Do not travel rats that pose a risk in the car at the same time as your own rats. This means all rats of uncertain background, including those from pet shops, and all rats who have had contact with any other potentially infectious rats over the preceeding two weeks.

Do ask plenty of questions about the rats you are transporting.

Always shower and change your clothes after dealing with moderate to high risk rats before visiting your own.

After any transport run clean carriers and other equipment with a bleach solution or strong disinfectant such as Virkon. Rise and dry thoroughly prior to storage.

General considerations

Always apply the two week guideline to any situation that puts any rat at risk from cross infection.

If there are any babies involved who have been exposed to possible infection then you will have to consider them to pose a risk for at least 4 full weeks after they are fully weaned - or 2 weeks post exposure – whichever is greater. This is because they will initially have maternal antibodies from the milk, which can mask infection.

Where rats have been part of a colony that has been experiencing active infection the whole colony should be considered unsafe (and therefore fully quarantined) for a period of at least 2 weeks after the last rat to show symptoms recovers.

Any time that you visit a rescue centre or come into contact with rats in a pet shop you could potentially carry infection back to your own rats. In these circumstances it is wise to consider yourself to be a risk and shower and change prior to visiting your own rats, when you return home.

Do not collect/transport rats without due consideration of their history. Make sure you satisfy yourself that the rats you are collecting/moving have been properly quarantined and have remained well for at least a period of 2 weeks. If this hasn’t been possible please consider the rats to be ‘a risk’ to other rats.

Author: Alison Campbell

_________________
Regards,
Fancy Rats Team


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