Ectoparasites (Lice, Mites and Ticks)

  • Alpaca Mites

    Skin disease in alpacas can be due to a number of different causes including bacteria, fungi, allergies, nutritional problems and various parasites including lice and mites. Of the various parasitic skin diseases, mite infestations are one of the most common and have the most detrimental impact on animal welfare and fibre quality.More »
  • Control of Lice in Alpacas

    Lice infestation of alpacas is widespread in Australia, albeit at low levels, and its presence is usually detected in herds at shearing time. Lice are species specific, meaning that camelid lice only infect camelids, cattle lice only infect cattle and sheep lice only infect sheep. There are two genuses of camelid lice, namely the biting or chewing louse, Bovicola spp. (Figure 1), and the sucking louse, Microthoracius spp. The former genus of lice feed superficially on the skin, the latter penetrate the skin and feed on tissue fluids.More »
  • Effects of Long Wool Insecticide Treatments on Lice Numbers and Wool Damage on Sheep

    Merino sheep infested with lice (Bovicola ovis) and with 8 months’ wool were hand jetted with a commercial spinosad formulation or treated with an α-cypermethrin backline product to examine the effect of long wool treatment on lice numbers and wool damage, relative to untreated controls. Mean lice numbers were reduced significantly (P < 0.05) by treatment and then remained relatively constant until shearing 20 weeks later. Treatment with either product resulted in significant improvements in mean clean and greasy wool cut, yield, staple length, both visually assessed and measured colour, and the proportion of fleeces classed into the main fleece line. There was no significant difference between the two treatments in either efficacy in reducing louse numbers or on production characters. Wool rub score and cotting assessed on the sheep increased slightly after treatment and then did not change until shearing whereas both scores increased significantly in the untreated group. There was a strong relationship between the visual rub score and the loss of wool at shearing, indicating that rub score can be a good predictor of lice-induced reduction in fleece weights.More »
  • Important Ectoparasites of Alpaca (Vicugna pacos)

    The alpacas as other livestock are exposed to and affected by a range of ectoparasites (see Table 1). Of particular importance are the mange mites, the burrowing Sarcoptes scabiei and the non-burrowing Chorioptes sp and Psoroptes sp and lice, both biting and sucking Phthiraptera. The mange mites have been reported to be common infestations on alpacas also in countries outside of South America. Problems with mange are reported frequently from several countries in Europe [5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. In the UK e.g. 23 % of alpaca owners were concerned [8] and in Switzerland alpaca owners regarded mange as one of the four most frequent health problems [11]. Sarcoptes scabiei var aucheniae is very prevalent in alpacas as well as in other SACs [3]. It is said to be responsible for 95 % of all losses due to ectoparasites in alpacas [12, 13]. Infestations with Chorioptes sp are also very common. Some regard Chorioptes mites as the most common ectoparasite infesting SACs [14]. The mite is assumed to be C bovis [15, 16]. Psoroptes (aucheniae) ovis may also be found to infest particularly the earlaps (pinna) and the outer ear canals, but can also be found elsewhere on the body of alpacas. Mixed infections occur with two and even three of the mite species [9, 17, 16].More »
  • Mange Mites in Alpaca

    Mange is a mite which burrows under the skin causing itching. Mange mite infection can appear and spread extremely rapidly. The skin will first appear red and blotchy, and will then become extremely dry and crusty. Main initial areas of infection are the ears, and at the tops of the legs (front and back), the belly area and under the tail. When the area infected is around the teats it can make feeding a cria difficult, painful or impossible for the dam.More »
  • Mange in Alpacas

    How to treat mange in alpacas.More »
  • Mighty Mites: Chorioptic Skin Disease in Alpacas

    Skin disease in alpacas can be due to a variety of different causes: bacteria, fungi, allergies, nutritional problems, and various parasites. One of these parasites is the Chorioptic mange mite. Chorioptic mange can be a real headache to the alpaca owner. Difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to treat, this exasperating parasite can masquerade as its cousin, Sarcoptic mange, or hide out under secondary fungal and/or bacterial infections.More »
  • Mites - Problem or Condition?

    Prior to this discussion getting fully underway we need to realize that there are many types of mites, four of which are most prevalent and each carrying there own level of severity of condition and treatment. Please understand, I am not an Acarologist (one who studies ticks and mites) but an Alpaca rancher who has encountered mites and done the research to understand the condition.More »
  • Munge, Mange and Mites

    One morning I noticed a crust on one of my female’s nose. It was pretty muddy so I figured it was caked on mud more than anything else. A couple of days later I looked at her nose again. Nope, it wasn’t mud but a really thick scab. Thinking maybe she got a cut I put anti bacterial ointment on it and turned her back out. A day or 2 later I looked at her again. Now both sides of her nose had crusty scabs. Now I know it wasn’t a cut and was something else so I read up on skin problems in alpacas. She ended up fitting the bill for Munge: Nasal Nyperkeratoxic Dermatitis and is common in alpacas under the age of 2.More »
  • Natural Remedies for Ticks, Mites, Lice & Fungus

    Finding ticks in our alpaca’s ears used to be our biggest problem. I did some research on how to keep the barnyard more insect free and came up with a few solutions. I know many farmers and ranchers depend on their guineas to keep ticks and other insects under control. Guinea fowl are wonderful additions to the barnyard and veggie garden. Guineas eat the larvae and nymphs that eventually turn into adult ticks. When allowed to free range, the diet of adult guineas consists of 90% bugs and weed seeds. The other 10% is the feed you provide. Using guineas is a safe alternative to chemical treatments and reduces the population of ticks.More »
  • Prevalence of Chorioptes sp. Mite Infestation in Alpaca (Lama pacos) in the South-west of England: Implications for Skin Health

    A study aiming to determine the prevalence of Chorioptes sp. mite infestation in the alpaca (Lama pacos) was carried out following confirmation of widespread skin disorders affecting South American camelids in the United Kingdom, and the isolation of this species of mange mite in conjunction with skin lesions from case material referred to the authors. A total of 209 alpaca in nine units in the south-west of England were included in the study. Every alpaca on the unit was clinically examined for the presence of skin lesions. All alpaca presenting with signs of skin disease, as well as approximately one in five clinically healthy, randomly selected, in-contact alpacas were included in the sampled population (n = 83). Superficial skin scrapings were taken from each animal included in the sampled population from six different sites, in addition to a dry swab taken from the ear canal. Of the 209 alpaca examined, 47 (47/209; 22.5%) showed signs of skin disease, ranging from mild alopecia, thickening, crusting and scaling of the skin of the pinnae, to severe and similar diffuse lesions affecting mostly ears, axilla, face and dorsum. Of the sampled population, 33 alpaca (33/83; 39.8%) were positive for Chorioptes sp. mite. Cumulatively, in 29 out of 33 positive cases (87.9%) Chorioptes sp. mites were detected in scrapings taken from the forefoot and/or the axilla. Thirteen out of the 47 alpacas affected by skin lesions (27.7%) were concurrently positive for Chorioptes sp. mite, 20 out of 36 (55%) un-affected sampled alpaca were positive for the mite, and 34 out of 47 affected alpacas (72.3%) presented skin lesions but were negative for Chorioptes sp. mite. Statistical test showed that affected animals tended not to be positive for the mite whilst un-affected animals tended to be positive for the mite. Additionally, there was a highly significant association between lesions, age and mite, in that an increase in the presence of skin lesions and a decrease in the presence of mites with increasing age was observed. Chorioptes sp. mites have been previously observed in the llama and the alpaca, but chorioptic mange was considered a rare condition in both host species. Findings from the present study indicate high prevalence of both the mite infestation and related clinical signs in alpaca in the south-west of England.More »
  • Scabies in Alpacas

    Scabies is a skin infection that occurs in many animal species and in humans. Its cause is the scabies mite, a parasite 0.5 mm long that lives in the skin. Although scabies can be treated successfully, it is important to recognise it early; prevention, of course, is best.More »
  • Some Important Ectoparasites of Alpaca (Vicugna pacos) and Llama (Lama glama)

    The most important ectoparasites infesting/infecting alpaca (Vicugna pacos) and llama (Lama glama) are reviewed. The clinical manifestation and the diagnosis of the different parasitic infections/infestations of Sarcoptes scabiei, Chorioptes sp., Psoroptes sp., Damalinia (Bovicola) breviceps and Microthoracius spp. are described as well as therapies against them. Demonstrating S. scabiei and Chorioptes sp. with available diagnostic methods are challengingly often due to the relatively small numbers of mites that may elicit clinical disease. In Chorioptes sp. infestations it has been shown that alpacas are often subclinically infested. Predilection places are between the toes and in the axillae. The variable response to modern acaricidal treatments emphazises the need of more evidence based studies. The lack of lanolin in the fibres of South American camelids may explain the poor response to topical applications of modern insecticidal/acaricidal products used on other animals. Pharmacokinetic studies of such substances are limited. Few products are licenced although several products that are used and are available for other animals are used off-label. Applying a combination of systemic and topical treatments may produce optimal results. The need to apply treatments against the mange mites more frequently and with higher dosages of some of the acaricidal substances than recommended for other livestock is indicated. Lice infestations are often easier to deal with. Systemic treatment should be applied against suckling lice and topical against the biting lice. All animals in affected herds should be treated at the same time and stringent biosecurity measures following treatment is recommended to avoid re-infections/infestations.More »
  • Tick Paralysis in Alpacas

    Warming weather in Southern California and in all parts of the United States brings with it a renewed threat of tick paralysis in animals and people. Alpacas are not excluded from this group, and we have experienced first hand tick paralysis in a young male alpaca on our farm. Since then we are diligent in the control and treatment of ticks at the ranch. Tick paralysis is a somewhat uncommon but potentially fatal disease that can affect virtually all warm-blooded land animals. The illness occurs when certain species of ticks inject potent toxins from their salivary glands into the host animal. The disease was first identified in Australia in 1824. Since then, more than 60 species of ticks worldwide have been identified as toxin producers.More »
  • Treatment of Chorioptic Mites in Camelids

    It is important to note that currently available ivermectin injectables and topicals do not work well in these species as the physiological makeup of their skin is different than other ruminant/semiruminant species. Chorioptes bovis can be found on several species and all potential sources of infestation must be considered (cattle, horses, etc.).More »
  • What on Earth....Mite this Work?

    I know the M word causes even more discussions than the weather, but it's back to talking about mites. We have been fairly fortunate not to have had any excessive reactions to mites within the herd, however the tell tale evidence of hair loss and dry skin around the feet of one or two of the herd, means that they are there alright. We have tried all the usual systemic and topical treatments in the past. Most work to a varying extent but they are both time consuming and expensive.More »