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Post taken from message board mice@yahoogroups.com
Posted by me9spring (9spring@earthlink.net) on 5 January 2003

Maybe many of you breeders know about this, but I recently discovered something quite alarming to me regarding mice with these symptoms. Namely, symptoms of mites, or skin irritation/allergy, that just never seems to clear up no matter what you do, followed by weight loss, lethargy, and death, though some take longer than others.

Based on a whole army of exotics specialists who have been seeing two of our mice with similar symptoms, I have discovered that our mice have compromised immune systems (something like "Mousie AIDS"). It is caused by a virus that produced mild to severe respiratory symptoms in the infected mice, from which they recover, but their immune system is compromised. This leaves them ever after susceptible to all kinds of infections and irritations, from which they cannot recover because of the immunity problems. It is apparently contagious among mice who live together. It is not easy/cheap to diagnose specifically, so it is usually diagnosed from these types of exaggerated illness responses to insult (such as mites), that might not bother healthy mice (much).

Because it is contagious, I'm thinking back to all the posts I've seen on bad cases of "mites" and I'm wondering if the infection rate might be on an upswing. I'm sure the population of the breeder who supplied the store where we got our mommy mouse is infected, but I suppose it's possible a breeder with a high turnover of mice (including breeding age mice) might not even be aware of it since symptoms may not show up until the age of 4-7 months or maybe even more in an infected litter. I don't even know how contagious it is or whether some mice are immune or non-symptomatic carriers.

The whole thing has me very worried, though. It's heartbreaking to see these little guys go down so miserably and at such a young age. It's a terrible disease. I wonder if there's anything that can be done to stop it from spreading???

As a specific answer to your question - in our case we are giving Interferon and antibiotics orally twice daily. One of the mice, who started showing symtoms about 4 months ago is holding pretty steady, though still pretty itchy. The other didn't even show symptoms until about 7 weeks ago, but went down fast - we lost her about 2 weeks ago, despite the treatment. I think you probably need to see a mouse vet.

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