María Sandonás from the Moro district, Santa province, Ancash region, expertly and with considerable precision, uses a sharp scalpel to gently incise the skin of a guinea pig lying open on a work bench. He slowly removes the animal’s fur, then makes a new incision that allows the chest to be opened and the state of the organs to be observed. This is an autopsy performed to determine the disease that attacked the small rodent.
“I work in a recreational area in Morrow and I already have experience cutting guinea pigs. But I don’t know how to recognize diseases. Now I’m learning”, says Maria.
She and another group of colleagues participated in the Agricultural Training Program (PFA) run by the Integrated Rural Development Service (Sedir), which aims to train leaders and empower entrepreneurs.
One of the illnesses found at the autopsy was salmonellosis, a white spot on the guinea pig’s liver. This disease is the most dangerous, highly contagious, and can kill all specimens in the shed if not prevented or controlled in time. Another disease that affects rodents is pneumonia.
“Guinea pigs suffer from infectious and parasitic diseases, mite and lice attacks and it is very important that breeders learn to recognize them. It is also important that their sheds have a first aid kit with antibiotics and antiparasitics” , commented Liberato Torre Albino, Head of Training at Sedir.
It is also necessary to clean the fence with lime and put the same material at the entrance to disinfect shoes.
Salmonellosis is transmitted orally, and control methods also include burning infected and dead animals. Treatment requires enrofloxacin.
To prevent pneumonia, animals must have a good diet and avoid sudden changes in temperature, drafts, and high humidity within the facility. In addition, healthy animals must be separated from diseased animals.
Guinea pigs also get sick with mycoses (fungus), which is spread from skin to skin between guinea pigs, and conjunctivitis (a product of dirt in the pen), which is treated with oxytetracycline.
“I need to know everything about guinea pig breeding because I want to start a sales business. The money I make will help me feed my 3 children,” said María Granados, a participant in the agricultural training program .
Guinea pigs are healthy, guinea pigs are sick
Certain behaviors can be used as indicators of health or disease in guinea pigs. For example, a healthy animal is active, of a moderate weight, has a shiny coat, has a good appetite, and is well developed. Sick guinea pigs, on the other hand, detached from the group, isolated themselves, refused to eat, had bristling hair, had diarrhea, and had a sunken abdomen.
Prompt prevention and control will allow healthy guinea pigs to obtain products of good quality and quantity.