Porphyrin Secretions Figure 1

Figure 1: Chromodacryorrhea (Porphyrin secretions), secondary to suspected SDA, in 3 (+) year old rat (Madonna).
Case history and photos


Madonna is a 3 year-old intact Agouti female rat housed in large cage, in the upstairs portion of the house, with other females and one neutered male rat. Madonna and her cage mates were exposed to two baby rats who were brought in and housed in a downstairs room of the house, in an effort to quarantine.

Clinical Signs

Since the rats’ keeper had just lost another female rat housed in an additional room of the upstairs portion of the house, he was paying particular attention to signs of illness in all of the rats. He noticed that Madonna was showing signs of increasing lethargy, and porphyrin about the eyes. Treatment was initiated.


Chromodacryorrhea secondary to suspected SDA (ELISA or MFI testing not performed. SDA unconfirmed).


Madonna was started on Baytril and Doxycycline for treatment of possible secondary lung infection. Metacam and guaifenasin were added to combat inflammation and congestion.


Madonna’s symptoms progressed to lung involvement, congestion, throat swelling, and bulging of the right eye despite continued treatment. She succumbed 10 days after the initial signs of illness and starting the treatment.


The outbreak of illness started shortly after Madonna’s keeper purchased and brought home a baby rat from a local pet store on Christmas Eve, and another Christmas day. Both new rats were quarantined downstairs in a guest room, away from the colony residing in the upstairs room of the house. Neither of the new rats showed any signs of illness, but they were nonetheless given a week of prophylactic antibiotics before coming near the existing colony. It is likely that, despite precautions, the spread of the virus was due to not quarantining in a separate airflow area.

At the time that the two new rats were brought into the house there were 21 resident rats. All of them became ill to some degree. In addition to Madonna, one other female perished; she was 4 years and 2 months of age. Two additional rats showed eye swelling, one in one eye and one in both eyes. They actually looked worse than Madonna. Both of these rats made a full recovery. Eye rinses with normal saline were performed several times a day on both rats to maintain eye moisture, since their keeper couldn’t tell if they were able to blink.

Baytril and doxycycline were given to all the rats to treat for potential secondary / opportunistic bacterial infection. Both antibiotics were continued for a week past the absence of clinical signs. Metacam and guaifenasin were added to the treatment for those with more severe symptoms.



Left photo shows Madonna free of secretions two days prior to onset of illness. The center photo, taken at the time of illness, shows pink / rust colored tearing (chromodacryorrhea) of both eyes. The photo on the right is a close up of the right eye showing swelling of the eye and rust colored tearing.

Case history and photos courtesy of Kevin R. Grazier, Ph.D.


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