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(JP)Boy infected with leptospira bacteria / Hamster linked to rare illness

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  • Masako Miyaji
    Boy infected with leptospira bacteria / Hamster linked to rare illness Yomiuri Shimbun Nov 20, 2001 An 11-year-old Osaka boy who kept a pet hamster is believed
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 20, 2001
      Boy infected with leptospira bacteria / Hamster linked
      to rare illness

      Yomiuri Shimbun
      Nov 20, 2001

      An 11-year-old Osaka boy who kept a pet hamster is
      believed to have contracted a life-threatening
      leptospira bacteria infection from the animal, The
      Yomiuri Shimbun learned on Tuesday.

      Few cases of humans contracting leptospirosis have
      been reported in recent years, according to doctors at
      the Osaka City General Hospital, where the boy was
      hospitalized.

      As more people keep pets, there is a greater risk that
      the bacteria can be transmitted from animals to
      humans, said Masashi Shiomi, chief of pediatrics at
      the hospital. "People should pay close attention to
      their pets' hygiene," he said.

      Hamsters have become one of the most popular pets in
      Japan, and as they are featured in a television
      cartoon, they are especially popular with children.

      The Osaka boy bought the hamster at a festival stall
      in May, according to his family. Eight days later, he
      was taken to a private hospital after running a fever
      and suffering pain throughout his body.

      He came down with ailments affecting his respiratory
      system and internal organs and was moved to the larger
      general hospital.

      Although the boy suffered a heart disorder shortly
      afterward, he recovered when doctors administered
      emergency treatment and antibiotics. He went home
      after being hospitalized for about a month.

      When the doctors first saw the boy, they thought he
      had contracted tuberculosis, according to the sources.
      A blood test, however, revealed a large number of
      leptospira antibodies.

      Because the boy's hamster died after he was taken to
      the hospital, it remains uncertain whether the hamster
      was infected with the bacteria.

      The details of the case will be revealed at an
      academic conference to be held on Friday in Ube,
      Yamaguchi Prefecture.

      Leptospira is a spiral bacteria that replicates itself
      in the bodies of rodents, and can be transmitted to
      dogs, cats and cattle.

      The bacteria, which is present in animal urine and
      polluted water and soil, can be transmitted to human
      beings via open wounds or mucous membranes. Humans
      start to succumb to the disease about 10 days after
      becoming infected with the bacteria.

      When animals are found to be infected with leptospira,
      their owners are required to report the infection to
      authorities under a law on the prevention of livestock
      infections.

      However, under a law governing the treatment of those
      infected, leptospirosis cases in humans need not be
      reported. This makes it hard to pinpoint the infection
      route.

      Mochinobu Okamoto, a member of the Japan Small Animal
      Veterinary Association specializing in such
      infections, said dogs can be vaccinated against the
      bacteria.

      "There is no worry of a hamster being infected with
      leptospira if you buy it at a proper pet shop,"
      Okamoto said. "But there is a possibility that
      hamsters may become infected if they are raised in
      unsanitary conditions."

      Copyright 2001 The Yomiuri Shimbun




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