Protozoal Parasites

Posted By: Anonymous

Protozoal Parasites - 10/20/06 04:02 PM

I have mentioned this topic before, but I really didn't develop a sense of what protozoal parasites can do to a sugar glider once infected. Currently, 3 of my gliders have these parasites, but I work as a veterinary tech and it seems that these parasites are very common in many animals. Has anyone had any experience with these parasites that can inform me of the dangers or possibly shed some light about these parasites. That would be really helpful.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Protozoal Parasites - 10/20/06 05:35 PM

Giardia is the most common Protozal parasite that can affect gliders. Once infected the parasite can interfer with the absorption of vitamins and nutrients. Diarrhea can occur along with poor appetite and dehydration.

I remember reading that certain meds pescribed can cause seizures.. will have to go look into that part though.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Protozoal Parasites - 10/23/06 02:53 AM

Giardia and Trichomonads are two common types of protozoan parasites. I have been going through extensive problems with these bugs in the past several months. Here are some links to the threads where I posted about them:

Recent problems with Piper

Peepers sick after Jeepers died

Long post when Peepers & Jeepers first got Sick

One thing my vet has told me is that he's not completely sure that the trichomonads are actually the cause of the illness, versus just being a symptom. In other words, maybe the trichs just overpopulate the gut when there's something else going on.

With Peeps and Jeeps, we found the trichs on a couple of different occasions when they were sick, we treated for them and they got better. Then Jeepers got sick with decidedly different symptoms and we never really figured out what was wrong, and we lost her. Right after that, Peepers got sick again and we found and treated both trichomonads and klebsiella bacteria and she got well. Now Piper is sick. She's had a positive test for trichs and we've been treating her with the same stuff we treated Peepers with the last time (metronidazole for the trichs and Baytril for bacteria) and she's not getting better. frown
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Protozoal Parasites - 10/23/06 10:56 PM

Where would gliders pick these bugs up? And is there any way to avoid infestation? What are the symptoms?

I heart glider glider
Posted By: silverwolf

Re: Protozoal Parasites - 10/23/06 11:22 PM

I know giardia is found in the water supply. It can come from animals that die in a steam and start these parasites then it infects the water supply. Alot of places use chlorine to help fight the presence of these parasites but not all. Im not sure if the trichs come from water or not.
Posted By: SugarBlossoms

Re: Protozoal Parasites - 10/24/06 12:28 AM

I wonder if even the spring water (purchased, bottled) can be infected too?
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Protozoal Parasites - 10/24/06 01:17 AM

Water is one source, but it seems unlikely to be from a public water supply or bottled. When my dog had giardia about 10 years ago, my vet at the time said she probably picked it up drinking from a rain puddle in the back yard or something. Runoff from a neighbors yard where their dog had it or whatever could transmit it.

Since our gliders don't tend to drink from backyard puddles very often, I've been asking around for a while to find out what other sources could cause it. First and foremost, other gliders and unclean conditions are a prime source. Obviously, glider mills where many gliders are packed into cramped cages which are not properly cleaned are a major source. Giardia and trichomonads are very contagious and care must be taken to avoid contact with an infected glider's bodily fluids or feces. However, my vet said that it doesn't survive well in a dry environment and at least trichomonads apparently don't form a cyst which can survive such conditions. So that still makes me wonder how my new glider picked them up, if she did, from my other glider who had had them months before. Their only contact was swapping pouches which had been checked for feces and being in the same room about 5 feet apart.

I have to say at this point that Piper most certainly did NOT come from a glider mill nor a questionable source. Our own Queenduck or actually her son Chaser owns Piper's parents and I know they take wonderful care of thier gliders. I don't think she's ever even had a sick glider.

Jeepers, Peeper's previous cagemate was a rescue, so she potentially could have been carrying the trichs long term, given them to Peepers and they just proliferated when they got sick. For that matter, Peepers came from a large breeder who I now know has questionable practices. Peeps was my first glider and I got her about 2 years ago.

Another source which has been suggested is fruit. Most of the fruit we buy in our grocery stores comes from South America. When you vacation in Mexico, do you drink the water? That's the same water they are irrigating the fruit with. So it stands to reason that parasites could be living either on or in fruit we cut up for the gliders. I don't know for sure if washing it fully removes them nor do I know if freezing the cut up pieces kills it. So that is a potential source.

Another problem with testing fecals for parasites is that they aren't always "shedding" the parasites so that they can be seen under the microscope. It's been suggested by my vet that they may just show up in the fecals when the glider has diarrhea for other reasons because they get flushed out at that time. Peepers had been symptom free for over a month when I got Piper and Peeps had also had two clean fecals several weeks or maybe a month apart. One was a few weeks before Piper came home and one was the week I got Piper, when I took Piper in for her well check and also had a fecal run on Peepers at the same time. They were both clean at that time, but it was only a week and a half later that Piper started having soft poop and I took a fecal in and it was definitely positive (3+ out of a possible 4 on the grading scale).

So you can see my frustration with these particular bugs. I'm not even sure if they are really what's causing Piper's illness. tant frown
Posted By: BeckiT

Re: Protozoal Parasites - 10/24/06 01:57 AM

PK, sorry to hear you're still having issues with Piper! I have no idea if freexing would kill the parasites or not. I know with Cypto (Cryptosporidium and Cryptosporidosis) freezing has to be a minimum of 4 hours at -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit). Boiling liquids or heating foods remains the safest primary method though. I am going to post this, and will be back in a little while to see what I can dig up on trichs and giardia. Maybe the University library will have more info...
Posted By: BeckiT

Re: Protozoal Parasites - 10/24/06 02:04 AM

OK, so far I've found this re: Giardia
Sufficient heat destroys all microorganisms and their toxins. Any food item which is thoroughly cooked or heated throughout, and is served while still quite hot, should be safe to eat. Water served at hotels and restaurants may not have been boiled, and should be avoided. Ice is often made from untreated water, and freezing does not kill the organisms that can cause diarrhea. Bottled water may not be safe, as there are no quality standards in the countries in which they are produced. Carbonated soft drinks are safe because the carbonation lowers the pH of the drink (making it acidic), and this acidic environment kills all the bacteria.

more to come, I'm still looking wink
Posted By: BeckiT

Re: Protozoal Parasites - 10/24/06 02:32 AM

OK, more smile

"As bottled water is not routinely monitored for Giardia and Crytosporidium, it's suitability as an alternative to boiled tap water is unknown" In other words, boiled tap water may be safer than bottled water.

Giardia: cysts are very resistant to freezing, chlorination of municipal water does not destroy cysts. after the ingestion of Giardia cysts it takes 5-16 days to show signs of infection, most notably diarrhea. Once "free" of Giardia, they can remain a source of infection to others. Metro is the most common drug used to treat. the animal should be bathed, especially around the perianal are to remove all fecal matter. Infected animals should be kept from contact with any healthy anumals. Environmental sanitationis a must. First, cleaning all fecal matter, by steam if at all possible, and then disinfecting the area. Diluted bleach (1cup bleach to 1 gallon water) is a useful disinfectant that kills cysts usually within one minute of contact. ALL bedding, rugs and similar items that the host animal has been in contact with should be wasged as well.

I couldn't find anything really non-technical about trichs, most of the stuff was about trichs in humans, and that's an STD. Not sure how that would translate over to the gliders..

Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Protozoal Parasites - 10/24/06 03:08 AM

Are the trichs in suggies the same ones as the trichs in humans? Maybe humans are the vector for transmission?

Angel and The Suggies
Posted By: BeckiT

Re: Protozoal Parasites - 10/24/06 03:21 AM

I have no idea Angel. All I could find on trichs was human related, and it's an STD in humans... I have an email in to the librarian @ the college library for help, so once I get an answer I'll be back to post my findings wink
Posted By: BeckiT

Re: Protozoal Parasites - 10/24/06 03:45 AM

Just got an email back from the librarian and this is the link she sent me on trichs (specific to sugar gliders):
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Protozoal Parasites - 10/24/06 02:12 PM

Thanks for that link, BeckiT. It actually goes to the ISGA, which is well known, but I hadn't explored their site in relation to this.

I also came across a nice webpage about veterinary meds:

It shows all the name brand veterinary antibiotics and antiprotozoan meds I've been hearing about and their method of action and known side effects.
Posted By: BeckiT

Re: Protozoal Parasites - 10/24/06 05:26 PM

Glad I could help PK. Isn't it ironic how I was asking my university librarian for help from the library and she sends me a link from the ISGA that was right under our noses almost... MarvistaVet is an awesome site, they have a TON of information, if you go to the main page: there are several sections to it, surgery and complications that can occur, drug listings, a pet library, all kinds of good stuff.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Protozoal Parasites - 10/25/06 03:46 AM

Parasites are everywhere in nature. I'm always surprised at the comments wondering where they came from. We get so wigged out about the origin. If we round up the first 100 children we see at the mall and test them, a goodly percentage will be Giardia positive. Most likely asymptomatic, but they are there. The local creek can be loaded, and house pets can get to it easily. Ever swim or water ski in a lake or river? Contact with parasites isn't hard to find.

I suspect most of our gliders' most likely source is fresh fruits and vegetables. Even trying, they are hard to wash well. The frozen ones are what we use now.

The water supply is very unlikely in our situations. If you drink from a stream or pond, then it could happens. But municipal water, bottled water, and the major ways we get our water supply are not usually problems. Well water can become involved, but not usually. Coliforms and other problems are also possible from wells.

There are also various sub-species that have favorite animals to visit. Not every critter is acceptable to the parasite.

In many species of animals, the most significant thing about Giardia is that it makes the animal "unthrifty." They just get mildly decreased nutrition, and become more susceptible perhaps to other ailments. It isn't usually as dire as what is noted here on GC. When your child has it, a common plan from the Pediatrician might be to do nothing. I have only treated the ones that have significant and unrelenting diarrhea. We obviously don't lose children to it like we have gliders. I haven't had the dogs have much trouble with it either.

Posted By: SugarBlossoms

Re: Protozoal Parasites - 10/25/06 06:18 AM

True about the parasites being everywhere. Our fingernails alone harbor many nasty things. Infections we get alot of times are from our own hands. We touch everything and those of us who do gardening are really at risk.

I have to wonder something else PeeperKeeper. Just like going to a hospital or doctor's office and picking up germs from sick people, it's the same for the vet's office. Since diseases, parasites, etc. can come from the air, fluids, etc., it could be possible that the vet has the nasty germs (bacteria) floating around. I realize they use certain chemicals to kill such things but it only takes one "germ" to multiply and some do rapidly.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Protozoal Parasites - 10/26/06 05:24 AM

There was an interesting study in a Pediatrics journal a while back that addressed the question of whether children that come in to the office for a yearly or well exam were more likely to come down with an illness shortly after - implying that they picked up something from sick people in the waiting room or germs on the toys. And do you know what it determined?
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Protozoal Parasites - 10/26/06 05:31 AM

No increased incidence of infections just after office calls.

I don't know that the results are applicable to a veterinarian's office, but movement between varied species happens less often than within the same species, so spread is not as likely there compared to our human offices. That is especially true for viral and many parasites. Bacteria are much less picky. (I worry more about the mall, school and day care for good places to share crud.)
Posted By: KattyM

Re: Protozoal Parasites - 10/26/06 05:54 AM

Uhm, schlep... You won't keep us in suspense indefinitely, for those of us who are too dense to know, eh? I could hazard a guess and have a 50/50 chance of getting the answer right. By the tone, I suspect they didn't pick up germs while in the doctor's office?

I was told (not by a doctor) that hospitals are kept freezing cold to help kill germs. Is this a myth? And everywhere I go (I've been visiting Mayo a lot lately) there are dispensers of Purell on the walls. I've been told to wash my hands frequently (almost obsessively). It seems all grocery stores now have open containers of Lysol or other disinfecting wipes as you enter so you can clean the cart handles. Are these sound or unnecessary practices?
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