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SDA Virus (contagious rat virus sweeping through the USA)

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lilspaz68

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Unfortunately SDA outbreaks are sweeping across the USA again...it happens every few years. It often flares out of control at rat mills, BYB's (backyard breeders), not so ethical breeders, rescues etc...if its not controlled it gets out into the main rat population and spreads like wildfire from there.

SDA (Sialodacryoadenitis virus or Rat Coronavirus)

Key Points
1) Its ONLY contagious to other rats (not humans or other pets)
2) The rat is only truly contagious for a week afterwards the virus sheds the body and they are immune to that particular strain of SDA (there is no carrier state)
3) If you only have a couple of rats the virus will go through them quickly. If you have larger groups or rats in different rooms etc. then it could take a lot longer to slowly spread and affect each rat, shed and have your colony clear of any contagious virus. If you have babies it takes even longer as a mother's immune system protects her babies until they develop their own immune system and this is when these babies will become symptomatic. A rattery should shut down for 3 months to be safe and make sure the virus has cleared their colony.
4) Antibiotics will not affect the virus but once it sheds the opportunistic secondary infections kick in and this is what you are fighting with the antibiotics. Its best to start the antibiotics ASAP to allow them time to build up in the system so they can fight the secondary infections.
5) Antibiotics are required for any symptomatic rats and will be needed long term. if you only have a few rats it might be better to treat them all just in case.
6) IF you feel you are dealing with SDA with your rat/rats/colony you need to go into a very strict lockdown, no rats in or out, no handling of healthy rats within 3 hours of handling sick ones as the virus can live off-host for 3 hours on fomites, including your skin, clothes and even in your nasal passages.
7) You have to treat this lockdown like you do with covid-19 without the masks. YOU are the person responsible in stopping the spread. If your rat has to go to the vet, let them know you have a suspected case of SDA virus and cannot have an appointment within 3 hours of another rat patient (just to be safe). When going out to a petstore, make sure to wash your hands and change your clothes IF going before that 3 hour window expires from handling your sick rats and handling items at a petstore. A shower and change of clothes (blow your nose as well) is the only way you can prevent the transmission of the virus in that 3 hour window.

Symptoms and Timeline
You usually bring home SDA with a new sick rat (not necessarily showing symptoms) or on your own body after handling or being near a sick rat, then going home and handling your resident rats in less than 3 hours. For eg. at the vet clinic, someone brings in their sick rat when you are there and you get exposed. Sneezing is the main method of transmission and a sneeze can travel up to 6 feet.

There's 2 possible starts to this virus, one where a formerly sick rat or one who you thought was healthy suddenly dies (within 24-72 hours or going downhill and not responding to anything), or your rats start to sneeze. You may find facial swelling/eye issues (you would see the connective tissue showing in front of the eye) and/or a round lump in the middle of their throat (swollen lymph nodes/glands) in SOME rats, not all. This is a very definitive sign that you are dealing with SDA.
eyes/facial swelling in a rat with SDA

lump under throat in rats with SDA
this is what you usually will see...

but it can be huge as well...

The eyes and throat will resolve within a week or so but giving Metacam or ibuprofen during this time can help with discomfort and swelling.

Sneezing will spread throughout your colony and the crackling, wheezing could start with some. The sickest rats will look very ill, be labouring for air, and might need emergency attention. You will have to get used to holding your rats sides to your ear to listen to their breathing as sometimes the worst cases have lungs that are constricted (like asthma) and they cannot get air in to breathe and your can only hear it with this method of "ratphoning". They may be using their abdominal muscles to breathe, may panic and run, breathe open-mouthed (gasps). These are the most severe cases, some/most should just get very sick and need long term antibiotics. Older or compromised rats are the ones most likely to die from this even with antibiotics.

Rats often don't respond right away to the antibiotics with a virus, but will slowly improve rather than the faster improvement with a regular respiratory infection. As long as they are eating, drinking you have a good chance.

If your rat is having issues eating hard foods, offer soft foods they can lick up. Eating solids is chewing/swallowing while not breathing, which a rat that is already having trouble breathing cannot do. Soft foods like baby food, flavoured baby cereal (a good one especially to keep weight on), even a lab block mush, or Ensure (meal replacement) they can lick, swalllow, breathe...and are more comfortable doing so.

Treatment
• Baytril or enrofloxacin or ciprofloxacin at 15 mg/kg BID (twice a day)

• Doxycycline at 10 mg/kg BID

• Metacam at 0.8 mg/kg SID (once a day) for eye/throat issues
OR
Ibuprofen at 20 mg/kg every 4-6 hours (only for a few days as its hard on the kidneys)

• Other alternatives are Clavamox (20 mg/kg BID) or Azithromycin (20 mg/kg SID), paired with Baytril/Enro.

• An inhaler or oral steroids (prednisone) or injectable steroids (dexamethasone given orally or injected sub-cutaneously) can help open up the constricted lungs of the worst cases

• Euthanasia for rats that are suffering, not eating or drinking even when offered to be hand fed or syringe fed


Locations (will be updated as needed) with reported cases of SDA in the U.S. so far

SDAV has been confirmed in:
Arkansas (rats purchased in Feb, deaths from SDA suspected - test results came back positive in AUGUST)
OKLAHOMA - SDAV+ rats unknowingly purchased by a Breeder in September.
West Linn, Oregon (lady knowingly selling SDAV rats on Craigslist)
Iowa (confirmed by rattery )
Colorado (confirmed by rattery )
Michigan (confirmed by rattery )
GROUND ZERO MAY BE A RATTERY IN UTAH
Also reported (not yet confirmed) in:
Texas
Tennessee
Mississippi
Kansas
Missouri
Georgia
Florida (rattery/rescue) - adopter has had definitive symptoms of SDA with her own rat after bringing home sick babies, and Rattery has lost a LOT of their own rats.
Las Vegas has reported Breeder selling SDA rats for pets & feeders (reported by member )
A death in Vegas (fits SDA profile )
******Possible Sendai in New York waiting on confirmation*****

ASK ANY QUESTIONS YOU WANT BELOW AND I'LL TRY TO ANSWER THEM OR GET YOU ANSWERS.
 
Last edited:

Kye

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Joined
Feb 1, 2019
Messages
82
Location
Maine
You said only rats can catch it. That means mice cannot yes..? Just wondering here
 

Pepper_rat

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Joined
May 9, 2020
Messages
56
Location
New York
I just lost a rat a couple weeks ago to an unexplained illness that came on very suddenly. Could we discuss this in more detail to figure out if she had SDA or not? I’m worried as she was living in my colony of 7 other rats. They have sneezed a little bit she was not sneezing before she died so I just want to make sure it’s ok. Pepper has been sneezing and was put on antibiotics over a week ago and is recovering with no more sneezing but I’m still very worried. The vet was very surprised to hear about the quick illness that took Bean’s life but he never brought up SDA. Let me know if we can talk more in-depth about bean’s illness to know if it was SDA or not. I have a video of her breathing too.
 

lilspaz68

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Messages
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Toronto, Canada, Earth
I have asked for an updated list but the person who was coordinating this just had surgery so we have to wait til she responds.
 

BreezyB

Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2017
Messages
5
Location
NULL
Looking forward to any future updates.

Thank you SO much for the heads up; really really appreciate it. For me, SDA in rats is kinda like parvo in puppies... all it takes is seeing the abbreviation to give me goosebumps; terrified of it, absolutely dread it. It sounds terrifying enough to read about and imagine and still it's incomparably worse to actually experience it (again, much like parvo). It's sooo hard on the poor rats and it's almost as hard to have to watch them, day after day, week after week, with next to nothing you can do but wait for it to run its course, just hoping & praying nonstop, from the moment you realize you have to accept that you've really got SDA to the end that only comes well after it's hopelessly felt as if it's never going to come, the entire time, that everybody manages to pull through. I can tell you from experience that those who,prior to the SDA, were already suffering pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, a myco flare up etc. or those of old or young age in general, have a reeeeally hard time getting through it.. . and sometimes they don't. Occasionally there can even be one previously free of pre-existing conditions or poor health, 100& healthy happy lively & personable, who can't pull all the way through the grueling, week after week, progression..
I couldn't even bring myself to say it's "equally," as hard to watch because yeah I have to see/watch it (and have literally cried just at the sight alone of how visibly despondent they were...) as tormenting as it may very well be, and oh it absolutely is, they are the ones in evident distress & anguish going through it.

Well that turned into quite the novel about SDA, eh.... I also noticed that my location is not on your list (have you referred to the RatGuide SDA record at all, in case there's any notable differences or contributions?) and needless to say, I can confirm that we have had more than one case here in Washington state within the last 7 years... though it's been about that long since I've heard a single word about it.. so this is distressing but good, and of course important, to know, regardless... now I have a head start to get back to my prior over-the-top OCD precautionary preventative practices (that drive everybody around me nuts)
 
Last edited:

Tessa1

New Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2020
Messages
1
Location
Romeo, michigan
Has there been any updates in regards to SDA, possibly starting to taper down? When it first started in September that was all you heard about in the rat community, now I hear very little. I've tried checking a tracker and it hasn't been updated in forever. I'm in Michigan, and even my vets have said the chatter has stopped. I want to bring in more babies, but I'm afraid too!
 

Dena

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Joined
Nov 13, 2018
Messages
279
Location
Texas
I am curious as well. I'm in Texas, and would love to adopt a couple more rats (I have a DCN not in use), but I'm worried about infecting my crew.
 

Rocket99

Active Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2018
Messages
42
Location
Massachusetts
I'm not sure but I believe the virus is more motherly centered. Texas is not a known area for reported cases anyway. I think.
 

lilspaz68

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Washington area is being hit hard. A bunch of people bought rats from a feeder breeder called The Rat Ranchers who advertised low prices and travelling through the area, and there are so many sick rats now.
 

Rocket99

Active Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2018
Messages
42
Location
Massachusetts
Washington area is being hit hard. A bunch of people bought rats from a feeder breeder called The Rat Ranchers who advertised low prices and travelling through the area, and there are so many sick rats now.
Oh wow, I'm so sorry to hear that. I hate to this but is the best course of action to terminate every sick rat?
 

lilspaz68

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Oh wow, I'm so sorry to hear that. I hate to this but is the best course of action to terminate every sick rat?
Absolutely not. Theres no carrier state. The virus sheds from the body a week after exposure so its not contagious anymore (unlike the Seoul virus), and then the rat is immune to that particular strain of SDA (there can be different strains in different regions) Treat the sick for at least 4 weeks, euthanize the ones that aren't going to make it, but expect possible health issues later on with the survivors.
 

Big Schpog

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
438
Location
British Columbia
Holy S%*&

This is incredibly scary. I will be very careful with my girls. We will not be doing ledge free roams for the time being. They will stay in Momma's coat. I'm in BC and that's too damn close for comfort.
 

BreezyB

Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2017
Messages
5
Location
NULL
Washington area is being hit hard. A bunch of people bought rats from a feeder breeder called The Rat Ranchers who advertised low prices and travelling through the area, and there are so many sick rats now.
Do we have any clue where in Washington state? Even just a general area, like western or eastern WA, if we're unable to narrow it down to county?
 

RatRace

Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2021
Messages
5
Location
America
Unfortunately SDA outbreaks are sweeping across the USA again...it happens every few years. It often flares out of control at rat mills, BYB's (backyard breeders), not so ethical breeders, rescues etc...if its not controlled it gets out into the main rat population and spreads like wildfire from there.

SDA (Sialodacryoadenitis virus or Rat Coronavirus)

Key Points
1) Its ONLY contagious to other rats (not humans or other pets)
2) The rat is only truly contagious for a week afterwards the virus sheds the body and they are immune to that particular strain of SDA (there is no carrier state)
3) If you only have a couple of rats the virus will go through them quickly. If you have larger groups or rats in different rooms etc. then it could take a lot longer to slowly spread and affect each rat, shed and have your colony clear of any contagious virus. If you have babies it takes even longer as a mother's immune system protects her babies until they develop their own immune system and this is when these babies will become symptomatic. A rattery should shut down for 3 months to be safe and make sure the virus has cleared their colony.
4) Antibiotics will not affect the virus but once it sheds the opportunistic secondary infections kick in and this is what you are fighting with the antibiotics. Its best to start the antibiotics ASAP to allow them time to build up in the system so they can fight the secondary infections.
5) Antibiotics are required for any symptomatic rats and will be needed long term. if you only have a few rats it might be better to treat them all just in case.
6) IF you feel you are dealing with SDA with your rat/rats/colony you need to go into a very strict lockdown, no rats in or out, no handling of healthy rats within 3 hours of handling sick ones as the virus can live off-host for 3 hours on fomites, including your skin, clothes and even in your nasal passages.
7) You have to treat this lockdown like you do with covid-19 without the masks. YOU are the person responsible in stopping the spread. If your rat has to go to the vet, let them know you have a suspected case of SDA virus and cannot have an appointment within 3 hours of another rat patient (just to be safe). When going out to a petstore, make sure to wash your hands and change your clothes IF going before that 3 hour window expires from handling your sick rats and handling items at a petstore. A shower and change of clothes (blow your nose as well) is the only way you can prevent the transmission of the virus in that 3 hour window.

Symptoms and Timeline
You usually bring home SDA with a new sick rat (not necessarily showing symptoms) or on your own body after handling or being near a sick rat, then going home and handling your resident rats in less than 3 hours. For eg. at the vet clinic, someone brings in their sick rat when you are there and you get exposed. Sneezing is the main method of transmission and a sneeze can travel up to 6 feet.

There's 2 possible starts to this virus, one where a formerly sick rat or one who you thought was healthy suddenly dies (within 24-72 hours or going downhill and not responding to anything), or your rats start to sneeze. You may find facial swelling/eye issues (you would see the connective tissue showing in front of the eye) and/or a round lump in the middle of their throat (swollen lymph nodes/glands) in SOME rats, not all. This is a very definitive sign that you are dealing with SDA.
eyes/facial swelling in a rat with SDA

lump under throat in rats with SDA
this is what you usually will see...

but it can be huge as well...

The eyes and throat will resolve within a week or so but giving Metacam or ibuprofen during this time can help with discomfort and swelling.

Sneezing will spread throughout your colony and the crackling, wheezing could start with some. The sickest rats will look very ill, be labouring for air, and might need emergency attention. You will have to get used to holding your rats sides to your ear to listen to their breathing as sometimes the worst cases have lungs that are constricted (like asthma) and they cannot get air in to breathe and your can only hear it with this method of "ratphoning". They may be using their abdominal muscles to breathe, may panic and run, breathe open-mouthed (gasps). These are the most severe cases, some/most should just get very sick and need long term antibiotics. Older or compromised rats are the ones most likely to die from this even with antibiotics.

Rats often don't respond right away to the antibiotics with a virus, but will slowly improve rather than the faster improvement with a regular respiratory infection. As long as they are eating, drinking you have a good chance.

If your rat is having issues eating hard foods, offer soft foods they can lick up. Eating solids is chewing/swallowing while not breathing, which a rat that is already having trouble breathing cannot do. Soft foods like baby food, flavoured baby cereal (a good one especially to keep weight on), even a lab block mush, or Ensure (meal replacement) they can lick, swalllow, breathe...and are more comfortable doing so.

Treatment
• Baytril or enrofloxacin or ciprofloxacin at 15 mg/kg BID (twice a day)

• Doxycycline at 10 mg/kg BID

• Metacam at 0.8 mg/kg SID (once a day) for eye/throat issues
OR
Ibuprofen at 20 mg/kg every 4-6 hours (only for a few days as its hard on the kidneys)

• Other alternatives are Clavamox (20 mg/kg BID) or Azithromycin (20 mg/kg SID), paired with Baytril/Enro.

• An inhaler or oral steroids (prednisone) or injectable steroids (dexamethasone given orally or injected sub-cutaneously) can help open up the constricted lungs of the worst cases

• Euthanasia for rats that are suffering, not eating or drinking even when offered to be hand fed or syringe fed


Locations (will be updated as needed) with reported cases of SDA in the U.S. so far

SDAV has been confirmed in:
Arkansas (rats purchased in Feb, deaths from SDA suspected - test results came back positive in AUGUST)
OKLAHOMA - SDAV+ rats unknowingly purchased by a Breeder in September.
West Linn, Oregon (lady knowingly selling SDAV rats on Craigslist)
Iowa (confirmed by rattery )
Colorado (confirmed by rattery )
Michigan (confirmed by rattery )
GROUND ZERO MAY BE A RATTERY IN UTAH
Also reported (not yet confirmed) in:
Texas
Tennessee
Mississippi
Kansas
Missouri
Georgia
Florida (rattery/rescue) - adopter has had definitive symptoms of SDA with her own rat after bringing home sick babies, and Rattery has lost a LOT of their own rats.
Las Vegas has reported Breeder selling SDA rats for pets & feeders (reported by member )
A death in Vegas (fits SDA profile )
******Possible Sendai in New York waiting on confirmation*****

ASK ANY QUESTIONS YOU WANT BELOW AND I'LL TRY TO ANSWER THEM OR GET YOU ANSWERS.
So can a rat that gets cage cleaned everyday that doesn't have contact with outside rats get this can people spread this to rats as just a carrier while they do not themselves get it
 

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