Veterinary Handbook Disease Finder

Itch Mite

Species

Other Names

  • Australian Itch
  • Psorergates Ovis

Syndromes

Description

Itch mite, Psorobia Ovis (formally Psorergates ovis), is a microscopic mite that lives in the skin. Heavy mite infestations cause skin disease and fleece damage from scratching. Infestations are usually subclinical and limited to sheep.

Widespread use of macrocyclic lactone drenches like ivermectin have greatly reduced the incidence of itch mites and the condition is now rare. In addition, itch mite populations build more slowly than lice and the mite does not tolerate hot, humid conditions or exposure to sunlight in short wool.

Clinical Signs and Diagnosis

Heavy mite infestation causes scratching, biting and fleece damage. Mites should be suspected when lice or grass seeds are not found.

Laboratory confirmation requires skin scrapings collected using a scalpel blade dipped in paraffin oil. A skin biopsy submitted in buffered formalin may assist in differential diagnosis.

Treatment

Macrocyclic lactones such as ivermectin are highly effective.

Prevention

Specific preventative measures beyond the occasional use of macrocyclic lactone drenches are usually unnecessary.