I am responsible for work place safety. So, I have had coached my assistant Min how to observe cat, and dog behaviour. He got bitten by a dog attended by Dr Teo, on his palms sometime ago and I had to bring him to see the doctor. The cat under Dr Vanessa bit his thumb which needed a doctor to stitch. Then on Aug 26, 2011, I asked him to wear cotteon glove to restrain a dwarf hamster, male, 11 months, 92 g.
The hamster was very itchy all over its elbows and hind limbs. Red rashes. The inguinal area was bald. Two bare patches of 0.3 cm x 0.3 cm on both backside of the end of the tail as if he had chewed on them.
1. Anal sacculitis? Licking of both backside and groin area. I tried to squeeze the anal sac. It was impossible. The hamster struggled and turned. Bits of brocolli flowers spilled out from his pouch. The younger lady was stressed out as she fidgeted. So I stopped.
2. I diluted pred 0.01 ml with 0.1 ml of saline in a one-ml syringe. Asked Min to hold the hamster's head area with his gloved hand. "He does not bite, " the older lady wanted to hold him, confident. But it is not wise to ask her to do it while I inject the skin above the rump on both sides. A little on either side.
Suddenly Min shrieked and withdrew his hand as I injected. "The hamster bites me!" he said. So, that's how he got bitten by a dwarf hamster under my care. So, 3 vets' animal patients bit this vet assistant.
I showed Min again how to hold the hamster's head while I injected SC.
August 28, 2011 Monday
I phoned the owner. "The hamster no longer bites his elbows after the injection," she said. "The next day he was back to normal."
She had switched to a different brand of bedding (paper cotton roll type) as the previous b rand was hard to find. Was this the cause? Or was the hamster too fat and had difficulty climbing up the wheel? "He seldom exercises on the wheel," the young lady said. "He eats only 3 sunflower seeds and I don't know why he is so chubby!" 92 g is a lot of weight for a dwarf hamster. "He has no sand and his ears are not itchy," she confirmed.
So what was the cause of this itchiness? Bedding? The hamster is on 14 days of pred and antibiotics. The owner may be able to source the old brand.
"Self stimulation on the groin area leading to a shiny bald groin?" I enquired. The owner did not know. The whole hind limb was bald and itchy, two backsides were bald. The hamster lives alone. Food allergy perhaps? Same hamster food, the owner disagreed. To the owner, the same food but it is not the same composition or sources of seeds and pellets. One of the components could cause allergies. It is hard to explain to the owner.
So, it is a mystery as to the cause of this intense itchiness causing the hamster to scratch non-stop. As for my assistant, he is much more alert and careful. His thumb is still bandaged after 3 weeks from the cat bite. The hamster's bite was nothing. A pin prick.