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Friday, May 6, 2016

3 Types of Fur Mites in Rabbits - How do we know when Bunny has them?

Common Fur Mites
Cheyletiella parasitovorax and Leporacarus gibbus

These parasites are encountered around the world and affect mainly rabbits but also cats and dogs. 

The parasites live in close association with the keratin layer of the skin but they do not burrow into the skin. It is suspected that mites may be present asymptomatically in small numbers on healthy rabbits. The development from egg to adult mite takes place on the same rabbit host. The female lay eggs and stick them to the hair about 3 to 4 mm above the skin. The life cycle takes about 5 weeks under optimal conditions.

Cheyletiella parasitovorax has a zoonotic potential, causing a transient itching dermatitis in humans.

 

Clinical signs

Fur mites appear associated with spring when weather becomes milder, with a lack of vitamin C due to e.g., stress, or due to an underlying disease, which suppresses the immune system.



 Photo example of early stages of fur mites.


The presence of fur mites is not always easy to determine. When present, fur mites are most likely to be found on the dorsum and neck of the rabbit, where it causes dandruff, seborrheic lesions (lesions from abnormally increased secretion of fatty matter), and a pruritic (itching) condition. They can also be found on the dorsum and abdomen. Fur mites can cause a hypersensitivity reaction.




Diagnosis

 Diagnosis can be difficult and visual examination is not always sufficient to confirm the presence of ear mites. Detection methods include the tape method, skin scraping and examined under a microscope. Fur can also be sampled for the presence of eggs. If no mite is present in the first sample, other places on the body should be checked. If the presence of burrowing mites is suspected, but none found after a deep skin scraping, a biopsy on the area suspected of mite infestation is advisable.




 

















Treatment

Fur mites are eliminated by ivermectin, PO or SC, 3 times at intervals of 10-14 days. Ivermectin can also be used topically (directly on the skin). Dips (Aludex® - Hoechst; Seleen® - Sanofi; LymDyp® - DVM) can be used to treat the seborrhea (excessive secretion of fat by the skin) and remove the keratin layer on which the mites feed; they will not kill the parasite.
Although fipronil (Frontline® - Merial) is effective in eliminating Cheyletiella sp., the manufacturer forbids the use of Frontline® on rabbits. Serious adverse effects (depression, anorexia, seizures, death) have been observed in rabbits, especially young or small rabbits.
Imidacloprid (Advantage® - Bayer) is ineffective against Cheyletiella sp. mites.
Treatment of the environment is important (boric acid such as Fleabusters®; Vet-Kem Acclaim Plus® - Sanofi; Staykil® - Novartis; Indorex® - Virbac; acaricide spray). When treating a carpet, vacuum first in order to further penetration of the spray or powder. Shampooing and steam cleaning are not ideal; their residual humidity can increase the mite problem. During treatment of the environment, rabbits should be kept in another part of the home to avoid the danger of contact with the products.

**http://www.medirabbit.com/EN/Skin_diseases/Parasitic/furmite/fur_mite.htm 

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Less Common Fur Mites in rabbits:
Trombicula autumnalis and Dermanyssus gallinae

Both parasites infest other species of animals or birds, but have been observed on rabbits. Trombicula autumnalis, or harvest mite, is found in the fur of rabbits that have free access to a yard. The female mite lays eggs in the soil. The hatching larvae, which are barely visible with the naked eye, move into the grass and wait till a suitable host is found. Only larvae will attack a rabbit, cat, dog, or human; further developing stadia proceed in the soil. The parasite will suck body fluids up to 3 times its body size, after which it will fall down on the soil to complete its life cycle.

Dermanyssus gallinae, also called red mite, may accidentally be hosted by rabbits living in the presence of birds.

 









Left: Trombicula autumnalis
                                                        Right: Dermanyssus gallinae

Clinical signs

Larvae are usually found on the head of rabbits (ears, inner and outer corners of the eyes, chin), the neck and shoulder regions, under the front legs and between the toes, and in the perianal region.

Their presence of these uncommon parasites leads to intense pruritis and the formation of macules and pustules. Scratching will lead to self-mutilation, wounds, and the development of secondary bacterial infections.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis can be difficult and visual examination is not always sufficient to confirm the presence of ear mites. Detection methods include the tape method, skin scraping. Fur can also be sampled under the microscope for the presence of eggs.  If the presence of burrowing mites is suspected, a biopsy on the area suspected of mite infestation is advisable.

Treatment

Treatment of Trombicula autumnalis may be difficult. While fipronil, permethrins, and organophosphates are used on other animals to treat these mites, all have been linked to serious adverse effects in rabbits and should be avoided. The manufacturer of fipronil (Frontline® - Merial) strongly advises against using it on rabbits. Serious adverse effects (depression, anorexia, seizures, death) have been observed in rabbits, especially young or small rabbits.
Dermanyssus gallinae is best treated with carbamates. The treated rabbit must be closely monitored, as this type of insecticide can trigger toxic reactions. The use of a powdered product should be favored, due to poor absorption of the insecticide through the skin.
If any mite problem is not solved, the presence of infested dogs and cats (both can be asymptomatic carriers) or survival of the parasite to treatment should be considered.
Fur mites (live on the surface of the skin) can fall off and contaminate the environment. While treating for mites, careful cleaning of the cage and environment is recommended.
Treatment of the environment is important (boric acid such as Fleabusters®; Vet-Kem Acclaim Plus® - Sanofi; Staykil® - Novartis; Indorex® - Virbac; acaricide spray). When treating a carpet, vacuum first in order to further penetration of the spray or powder. Shampooing and steam cleaning are not ideal; their residual humidity can increase the mite problem. During treatment of the environment, rabbits should be kept in another part of the home to avoid the danger of contact with the products.



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Mange: burrowing mites
 Sarcoptes scabiei and Notoedres cati

 Rabbits can be affected by mange, caused by burrowing mites. Sarcoptes sp. is encountered all over the world, though not with equal frequency. Rabbits in northern Europe and England are barely affected by mange; In the US it varies according to the region. Burrowing mites present a zoonotic danger; they can affect dogs, cats, and humans, causing a transient itching dermatitis.

 Symptoms and clinical signs

Wounds appear first on the lips and nose, later around the head, neck, and sometimes around the genitalia. Burrowing mites (mange) will lead to heavy scratching by the rabbit, which will also lick the affected areas. This leads to alopecia (loss of fur). Often one can observe the secretion of a watery stuff that forms crusts upon drying. Self-mutilation will lead to wounds and secondary bacterial infection.

Severe infestation leads to anemia and leucopenia (decrease of white cells in the blood). The rabbit becomes lethargic and can die within a few weeks.





Diagnosis

Diagnosis can be difficult and visual examination is not always sufficient to confirm the presence of these mites. detection methods include the tape method, skin scraping. Fur can also be sampled for the presence of eggs.  If the presence of burrowing mites is suspected, but none found after a deep skin scraping, a biopsy on the area suspected of mite infestation is advisable.

 

Treatment

Mange is treated with 3 injections of ivermectin, one every 14 days. The environment should be thoroughly cleaned, as the mite can survive for weeks without the presence of the rabbit host. Wounds can be treated with benzyl benzoate every 5th day.

Moxidectin (Quest® or Equest® - Fort Dodge) has proved efficacious in treating sarcoptic mange in rabbits. It has so far not shown secondary effects in rabbits when administrated orally, while secondary effects have sometimes been observed after subcutaneous administration.

Sarcoptes scabiei can infest dogs, cats, and man. If the sarcoptic mite infestation is not resolved, the presence of dogs and cats, both possible asymptomatic carriers, or of parasites that survived the treatment should be considered.

If the affected rabbit presents severe anemia, a transfusion of blood can be attempted from a healthy donor rabbit.

Burrowing mites (live on/in the skin) can fall off and contaminate the environment. While treating for mites, careful cleaning of the cage and environment is recommended. Treatment of the environment is important (boric acid such as Fleabusters®; Vet-Kem Acclaim Plus® - Sanofi; Staykil® - Novartis; Indorex® - Virbac; acaricide spray). When treating a carpet, vacuum first in order to further penetration of the spray or powder. Shampooing and steam cleaning are not ideal; their residual humidity can increase the mite problem. During treatment of the environment, rabbits should be kept in another part of the home to avoid the danger of contact with the products.

 **http://www.medirabbit.com/EN/Skin_diseases/Parasitic/Mange/Sarcoptes.htm