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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 33254
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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I have a 3 month old syrian hamster that lives alone. She is

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I have a 3 month old syrian hamster that lives alone. She is fed on quality hamster food recommended by the pet shop and we have no other pets. She comes out to run around but is always supervised. She is occasionally given treats. I have just read on an american website that hamsters carry tapeworm that can infect children and adults and I am now freaking out as the vet in the pet shop seemed to think this was not a problem as we have no other pets. I do not know how she would acquire this but am really worried now that she should be wormed. She is showning no signs of mites or itching and her cage is kept clean and dry and she only drinks from a water bottle. Please can you help as I am really worried now

Aloha! You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin
You're correct. Hamsters carry tapeworms more so than the other common rodents kept as pets and some of the tapeworms can infect humans. Tapeworms are contracted when the hamster comes in contact with contaminated water and/or feed. A solitary hamster is unlikely to be exposed because other (infected) hamsters aren't contaminating the water and/or feed but it's certainly possible that she was exposed prior to your bringing her home.

Nevertheless, because infected hamsters are most often asymptomatic, we would need to collect a few grams of her feces and perform a microscopic ova and parasite exam looking for the characteristic tapeworm eggs. If found, treatment is highly effective; I inject or dose orally praziquantel at a dose of 6-10mg/kg and repeat the dosing in 10 days.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

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