There are many different kinds of infections that can cause diarrhea in hamsters, commonly referred to as wet tail. Wet Tail is not a specifically diagnosed disease but a descriptive term used for the clinical signs: Which are a matting and wetness of the fur around the tail and perineum. There are several different bacteria that have been implicated in this problem, mainly Colibacillosis, and Campylobacter.
Colibacillosis is caused by Escherichia coli infection. E.coli is a bacterium which normally inhabits the intestinal tract of all animals. There are a number of different strains, many species-specific, not all strains are pathogenic.

Campylobacter: Campylobacteriosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria of the genus Campylobacter jejuni bacterium: A bacteria that manifests itself with severe bouts of diarrhea in humans and in animals.
Campylobacter is a delicate and fragile organism, a very short lived bacteria, a bacteria that cannot tolerate dry conditions, and therefore will not survive on dry surfaces. It is killed by oxygen and grows only if there is less than the atmospheric amount of oxygen present, and cannot live in chlorinated water. Transmission is thought to occur by the fecal-oral route, through contamination of food or water, or by direct contact with infected fecal material. At 40 C the organism is viable for three weeks in milk, four weeks in untreated water, and five weeks in urine. Campylobacter is shed in the feces for at least six weeks after infection.

Campylobacter is Zoonosis: Zoonoses are diseases that are transferable between animals and human: BSE. Salmonella, Listeria, Campylobacter are zoonoses.
Humans contract the disease by one of the following routes: Ingestion, or direct hand to mouth contact with infected material normally feces.
Campylobacter: Has a short incubation period of 2 - 3 days 5 days max, after which the patient will then start to show the clinical signs after exposure to the organism. This is usually severe diarrhea of which may be bloody and will be accompanied by a foul smelling liquefied excretion.

Campylobacter: Is primarily a bacterium that is carried in the intestines of poultry / birds. Many chicken flocks are infected with Campylobacter; the chickens are infected with the organism but show no outward signs of any illness. Campylobacter can be easily spread from bird to bird through a contaminated water source, or contact with infected feces. When an infected bird is slaughtered Campylobacter can be transferred from the intestines to the meat / flesh. Nearly all the raw chicken bought has the Campylobacter bacteria on it. Campylobacter is also present in the giblets especially in the liver. This is the bacteria responsible for causing food poisoning in humans from eating undercooked poultry.

Campylobacter: In hamsters: this is a disease that most often affects young baby hamsters between the ages of 10 days to 8 weeks old. At 5 - 6 weeks old this is the age at which most hamsters are sold, stress, and bad breeding practice will predispose these young hamsters to this disease commonly referred to as "wettail”.

Campylobacter: Does not discriminate between the coat types of the hamster it affects both long (teddy bear) and short haired hamsters equally.
A healthy adult hamster that is exposed to this disease will not show any outward sign or symptoms of the disease. Though an older, or an ageing hamster with a compromised immune system is at risk.

This disease mainly affects hamsters from 10 days of age up to about 5 - 8 weeks, at this age the hamster may succumb to the disease, unless the early signs are recognized and treatment is instigated immediately. Hamsters above this age will normally respond well to antibiotic treatment of Baytril, or Teramycin. Through trials and experience Teramycin is the first choice, coupled with supportive care therapy.
The disease can easily and quickly spread between hamsters by direct ingestion of fecal matter. This can take place in the form of grooming, or eating food contaminated with the bacteria, always isolate affected individuals.

A hamster that has suffered from a campylobacteriosis infection may experience some body paralysis.This may be hind leg or total body paralysis. This may, or may not be accompanied with loss of co-ordination. In a hamster this condition can sometimes result from a Campylobacter infection, it is not common but does happen. The nerves that deal with the body’s senses and movements, are called the peripheral nerves, the P.N.S. These are nerves that are outside the central nervous system, that is the brain and spinal cord. Following campylobacteriosis the immune system makes antibodies against the components of Campylobacter. These antibodies attack components of the body's nerve cells because they are chemically similar to bacterial components.
This condition develops very quickly after the campylobacteriosis infection over a period of a few days. The disease can be life threatening.

hindleg leg paralysis hind leg paralysis  
In this video it can be seen the hamster has hind leg paralysis, and is dragging himself around using his front legs. This hamster had a bacterial infection. This was caused by the Campylobacter bacterium.
  After a further 5 days of treatment, he regains some use of his back legs.   10 days later, with treatment,a little bit of TLC, and supportive care he has now regained the full use of his hind legs again.
hind leg paralysis  
In this video. It can be seen the same infection can cause loss of co-ordination, and muscular movement.




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