Home: Health

Real Life Case: Immune System Deficiency
Sufferer: Kiefer, 3 months, buck.


When we first got Kiefer he was in perfect health. We intended to breed and show him and so he lived on his own in a tank next to two other bucks. When the older buck in the other tank developed a case of mites it did not seem to affect Kiefer. However, after a week or so he also started to show symptoms. He was given the same treatment as the other buck (eardrops and mite spray) but did not seem to respond.

Both mice affected with mites were prescribed Ivomectin to cure the infestation. Whilst this did the trick for the other buck, Kiefer’s problems seemed to get worse rather than better. After a month on Ivomectin that clearly wasn’t working, the vet prescribed two small tablets to be crushed up and a pinch sprinkled in the mouse’s water daily for a week. At around this time Kiefer also developed a large sore covering a large amount of one side of his body. This was in addition to sore, ripped ears, sores on both shoulders and back and an earlier abscess.

After this second type of drug had no perceivable effect the vet’s last recourse was to prescribe a week on Baytril. She informed us that if this did no good that we should seriously consider having him put to sleep as she had never seen a mouse in this condition recover.

Left: Kiefer as he was at his worst: note the shredded ears, Right: Kiefer again

During the week Kiefer was on Baytril I came across some information on the Internet outlining the possibility that mice could suffer from an immune deficiency similar to HIV or AIDS in a human. The symptoms mentioned sounded just like those we were experiencing with Kiefer. It seemed that each time he would develop a new illness or affliction he could not fight it off and would then receive another.

One afternoon we thought that he was very near the end because he was lethargic, with discharge from his eyes and passing pure white faeces. I picked him up and held him close to me in cupped hands to keep him warm and he would intermittently sleep and sit perfectly still. We moved him to a warmer place in the house, which seemed to remedy his lethargy and he perked up. On hearing our reports of his symptoms the vet was as puzzled as we were, especially as they had only appeared on that one day and then stopped.

However, despite not succumbing to whatever this mysterious condition had been, my little boy did not manage to defeat his other problems. His sores got worse and the large one on his side would scab over repeatedly and be groomed off and eventually began to weep. I began to fear that his wound was getting so deep that he would do himself internal damage. When I expressed this concern to the vet she agreed, and told us that there were no more medicines she could give him to try that might help. I tried natural remedies like squeezing a vitamin E capsule onto his sores to help them heal, and when I made his food up I made sure that it had no nuts or nut containing products or wheat in it (which might irritate the skin in such a susceptible mouse).

Although these remedies may have helped a less afflicted mouse, Kiefer was far too serious a case. For a while we thought the diet might be helping, only for him to then take a downturn. It was when Kiefer began to look fed up and a little miserable that we decided it was unfair to let him go on. Before, while he had been happy and active, we had been reluctant to ‘give up’, but now we could see the strain it was imposing on him. So, at the age of around seven months, we took Kiefer to the vet’s to be put to sleep. It was a sad day and a hard thing to do, but I don’t think Kiefer deserved to have to put up with his conditions any more: he was obviously affected by them but now he is finally somewhere that he can be illness-free.

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