There are several elements to a proper quarantine; isolation, separate supplies, hygiene, and time.
All gerbils being put into quarantine must be isolated from other animals and humans. They should not be in a high traffic area. Prevent people and animals from wandering to and from the quarantine area and the location of the healthy gerbils. Ideally a quarantine area is located in a second building, if none are available using separate floors and/or opposing corners of the home will be adequate. Do not keep any gerbils in bathrooms or kitchens.
Observation, Treatment and Post-Treatment are the three phases of quarantine.
During the observation phase all gerbils should be monitored for health. Notes should be taken about the behavior, eating habits, drinking habits, activity levels, and overall appearance of the gerbils. Monitor the gerbils weight if they appear skinny, malnourished or if they are female and possibly pregnant. Be sure to check gerbils for sores, rashes, broken teeth, missing fur and tumors. If any gerbil appear sick, have mites or parasites, and/or display other symptoms proceed to the treatment phase. If all gerbils remain healthy for the duration of the quarantine consider the quarantine complete.
During the treatment phase treat gerbil according to the veterinarian�s orders and medicate gerbils as needed.
The post-treatment phase is a period of two weeks after the gerbils are healthy and free of disease and parasites. This period is to allow time for any secondary infections or infestations to resolve. If any gerbil becomes sick or is re-infested with mites or parasites resume the treatment phase until all animals are healthy and display no symptoms or test positive for mites.
Quarantine Supplies and Equipment:
The quarantine area needs its own source of food, bedding, and water prior to the gerbils entering quarantine. All supplies should be kept in sealed air tight containers. There should be enough of each supply for the duration of the quarantine. Preferably supplies should be purchased brand new. Food and bedding may be frozen prior to use, but should not be returned to the freezer after opening.
Used equipment such as tanks, screen covers, wheels, and water bottle or items that have been in storage must be clean and sterilized. Plastic, metal and glass can be sterilized in a bleach solution (follow instructions on bleach bottle), rinsed and air dried. Objects made from wood such as chew toys, hides, and other toys are baked in the oven at 250F for an hour (optional if purchased new).
All equipment should be considered contaminated and at the end of quarantine all excess supplies should be discarded.
Proper Hygiene Practices
Hygiene is essential. Before caring for any pets, wash your hands and arms. Using hand sanitizer is also appropriate. All animals not in quarantine should be cared for first. Be sure to always wash your hands before and after.
Before caring for gerbils in quarantine you must wash your hands and arms again. It is extremely important to only handle gerbils in quarantine as needed and to wear single use disposable gloves while doing so. If gloves are not available use hand sanitizer before and after touching gerbils and/or contaminated equipment. After the gerbils in quarantine are cared for immediately take a shower and place your clothing directly into the laundry machine or into a sealed container. Wash clothing in hot water.
Handling Gerbils During Quarantine
Handling of the gerbils in quarantine is strictly limited to cleaning and medicating gerbils. Gerbils in quarantine should not be handled anymore than absolutely necessary. Playing with or handling the gerbils increases the risk for the caretaker becoming a vector for cross contamination and puts your healthy animals at risk. For this reason, socializing the gerbils must wait till after the quarantine period is over.
Duration of Quarantine
The length of time for quarantine is two weeks minimally; gerbils that do not display signs of illness, infestation or other signs of distress may be deemed healthy and moved into the general populace. If a single gerbil in quarantine is or becomes sick, diseased, has parasites including mites, worms, and/or fleas, or dies all gerbils in quarantine must remain so until all gerbils have stopped displaying symptoms. Then wait an additional two weeks before lifting the quarantine.
At the end of quarantine, all equipment should be sterilized and cleaned, and item that cannot be sterilized and/or cleaned must be discarded. Used and unused portions of food and bedding should be thrown away.
In the case of viruses or other pathogens that can remain in the environment with out a host, the quarantine have the same minimum length of time. For instance an example virus may last up 6 months without a host, thus the minimum quarantine should be 6 months after the last outbreak.
Segregating the Quarantined from the Quarantined:
Occasionally when dealing with multiple tanks of quarantined animals, some might recover sooner than others or have different afflictions. You may decide to create secondary quarantines if multiple issues are occurring. For instance, one group may have diarrhea while another may have a respiratory infection. It may be beneficial to set up a second quarantine to prevent them from getting each other sick again. Place the second quarantine in another room and as far away as possible from the other quarantined group and the healthy ones. The second quarantine must be treated separately and have its own supply of food, water, bedding, and medication.
Mites and Quarantine:
If a mite infestation is confirmed or suspected choose a quarantine room that is free of carpet, couches, bedding, and other cloth like materials as mites can take refuge there. Consult a veterinarian for species identification and tape testing. The average life cycle of most mites is three weeks. In the case of mites or other parasites, continue to medicate until all gerbils receive a negative tape test result and periodically have your veterinarian test for presence of mites by tape testing as some mites cannot be seen by the naked eye. Quickly identifying and treating mite infestations is crucial. The post-treatment quarantine should be two weeks or the time it takes for the full life cycle from egg to mite, whichever is longer.
When dealing with mites, having a second set of tanks, water bottles, wheels, and other cage accessories can be beneficial. Sterilize one set of equipment and prepare them with food, water and bedding prior to entering the room, immediately medicate and transfer gerbils into their new tanks. Remove the used set of supplies as quickly as possible, empty and discard used bedding and food into a trash bag and take the trash out. Place all other items including tank, lid, open water bottles, and wheels into a bleach solution for sterilization. Allow them to soak, for about 2 minutes. For large objects that cannot be fully immersed in the bleach solution rotate the the object and allow it to soak for 2 minutes before rotating it again. Be sure that the rims of the tanks are fully submerged, as mites can hide in between the glass and rim. The soaking of the equipment is to drown the mites, the bleach solution sterilizes it. Once all equipment is soaking, take a shower or bath. Place used garments directly into a laundry machine, wash clothing in hot water. If a laundry machine is not readily available, place clothing in a large zip lock bag or other sealable container until they can be washed. After bathing remove the equipment from the soaking tub, rinse the equipment and allow it to air dry.
Some mites stay on the host others do not. When dealing with climbing mites special precautions should be taken to make sure that they do not escape. Avoid keeping gerbils in rooms that are carpeted, remove curtains and other cloth like objects and furniture. Wipe down all walls windows other surfaces daily with soapy water.
Under the bed storage containers can be used to help control climbing mites. Place the tank inside the storage container; be sure that the side and top of the tank do not touch the side of the storage container or any other object. Pour about half an inch of water into the storage container, effectively creating a mote around the tank. Any climbing mite that attempts to escape the tank will climb down the outside of the tank and will either drown in the water or turn around. Be especially careful with the lid of the tank as it may harbor many mites, it would be best to place the lid immediately into a soaking tub.
The only mandatory quarantine enforced by the AGS is a Show Quarantine. This quarantine is primarily one of isolation. It does not require any special treatment of your gerbils, only that you do not expose your gerbils to any other animals during this period.
Although the ruling does not explicitly prohibit it, your gerbils should remain at home. Certain circumstances may require you to take an animal to a veterinarian for things that are not contagious such as a tumor. Gerbils that are taken to a veterinarian for any reason should not be returned to your kennel until after the show. The gerbil and their thank mates should be placed into a temporary foster home possibly with a friend, neighbor, or family member until after the show. This is to prevent your gerbil from bringing home any unknowns and jeopardizing your kennel.
�For the protection of all kennels attending the show the AGS has developed a strict quarantine requirement. This will help ensure that no viruses, bacterial infections, mites or lice are introduced to the kennel from outside sources.Each kennel bringing/sending animals and/or equipment must strictly quarantine their kennel for four weeks prior to attending the show, beginning no later than DATE*. NO new gerbils, rodents, exotics, birds or reptiles will be introduced to the kennel during this four-week period. If you have any unexplained deaths or illnesses during the quarantine period NO animals from your kennel should be brought to the show.�