Saturday, November 25, 2006

Billie's Abscess

Recently I saw one of the boys. He is a bit scary. Just now he is even scarier than in this photo because he has a sore face.

Billie is about 15 months old now. He is probably about 3 months old in the photo. One day the side of his face swelled up. It was a general swelling. It looked perhaps like a mosquito bite, although it is past mosquito season now. Perhaps he had fought a mukade .. I wouldn't be surprised, he looks like such a thug I would expect him to be out fighting mukade every Friday night. There was a little mark on the outside. Billie had obviously been scratching the area a lot since his toenails were very dirty. These were cut immediately to blunt them. Over the next few days the swelling went down and, to the relief of some and fear of others, we all thought Billie was going to be OK. But then a couple of days later a hard swelling started in the same place. This was clearly an abscess.

The usual way to treat a rat abscess is to wait until it is well developed, and has formed a scab then rip off the scab and clean it out fully with saline solution or hydrogen peroxide. A non-facial abscess is not usually treated with antibiotics. However facial abscesses in rats don't seem to have a very good outcome. Sometimes it seems they are signs of a deeper problem but we really thought Billie's abscess was caused by an injury of some sort so perhaps we could be more hopeful. The abscess was already quite large when treatment was started. Billie seems very quiet and his eyes are quite red, particularly the one on the side of the abscess.

Day 1. The abscess was bathed in hot water with a little ethanol in it, several times a day. The outside was cleaned with hydrogen peroxide.

Day 2. In about 24 hours a scab formed on the abscess. This was softened and removed using hydrogen peroxide. The hole was enlarged using some very sharp disinfected (with ethanol) scissors. A quite revolting green pus came out.

Day 3. The scab was removed (bathed with hot water and hydrogen peroxide) and the abscess will rinsed with hydrogen peroxide morning and evening. Some green pus came out in the evening.

Day 4. Billie seems livelier. There is less red round his eyes. The abscess was rinsed in the evening. The hydrogen peroxide fizzed quite a lot but no pus came out. There is quite a large firm area round the abscess but the abscess itself seems smaller.

Day 5. Abscess rinsed in the evening. No green pus, but seems to be some more solid white stuff. Some of this has been apparent in previous days but this time I cleaned it all out with hydrogen peroxide, cotton buds and a pair of tweezers (to carefully pick bits out!). The abscess is now more like a narrow but quite deep crater.

Day 6. Same as yesterday, more white gunk had accumulated which was removed. Crater seems considerably less deep. Billie seems back to his usual self, and is much more likely to be seen washing and eating than just sitting.

Day 7. Same as yesterday but abscess approximately halved in size. Swelling round area of original abscess has gone away.

Day 8. Abscess halved in size again. Tonight it was more like a scab with the merest smeer of white underneath. Just a small dint remains.

The abscess seemed cured after that, but it reccured in December, following the same pattern as previously (general swelling which went down and then an abscess formed). The difference was that the abscess was in the same place but on the other side of his face! I started bathing the abscess as soon as it appeared this time and it burst when smaller (on 25th December) and took only 5 days to get to about "Day 7" stage above.

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