A new study shows that guinea pigs or cavies are making people ill. The statement comes after three people, in three years have been taken to hospital after developing life-threatening pneumonia from their pets.
Studies show that most guinea pigs likely harbour the bacteria responsible for the inflammatory lung condition, which is detectable by the animals developing a pink eye.
According to researchers from Bernhoven Hospital, who conducted the study, they found three cases of guinea pig-related pneumonia have occurred in the Netherelands in three years.
All three incidents involved two women and one man, all in their early 30s.
They had guinea pigs as pets who had recently shown respiratory symptoms.
The man had two guinea pigs, while one of the female patients had 25. The other woman worked in a vet clinic where she cared for guinea pigs suffering from pink eye and nasal inflammation.
Patient samples revealed the presence of bacteria associated with pneumonia. In one of the individuals, this bacteria could be traced back to their specific guinea pig.
The report was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
According to lead author Dr Bart Ramakers, doctors and veterinarians should be aware of the bacterium, especially now that we have demonstrated that it can be transmitted from guinea pigs to humans.