ISSN 2398-2969      

Lice infestation

Clapis

Introduction

  • Cause: louse infestation is the infestation of an animal with insects of the suborder Anoplura.
  • These insects are wingless and dorsoventrally flattened.
  • Rabbits are only infected with sucking lice; biting lice of the suborder Mallophaga were not described. The infection is common in wild rabbits. In pet rabbits only isolated cases were described.
  • Although the host may not be exhibiting any clinical signs, the significance of mites lies in the fact that they can potentially spread diseases such as myxomatosis and tularemia.
  • Signs: may be none; presence of lice/eggs on hair coat, anemia, pruritus and/or self-trauma.
  • Diagnosis: clinical signs, hair brushings and plucking, adhesive tape strips, microscopy.
  • Treatment: improve husbandry, investigate other causes of ill-thrift, topical ivermectin or selamectin, treatment of bedding and environment.
  • Prognosis: good.
Print off the Owner factsheet on Lice infestation to give to your clients.


Presenting signs

Acute presentation

  • Pruritic irritated animal.
  • Presence of lice or their eggs within the hair coat.
  • Possible fur loss or matting due to intense grooming.
  • Unthrifty individuals.
  • In case of severe infestation anemia can be present.

Geographic incidence

  • Worldwide.

Age predisposition

  • Young animals are more susceptible.

Public health considerations

  • Found predominantly in wild rabbits, in pet rabbits prevalence is very low.
  • Potential vectors of diseases such as tularemia Tularemia (Francisella tularensis). 
  • Spread from rabbits to humans has been documented.

Cost considerations

  • Ill-thrift and death affect production systems, as does spread of potentially fatal diseases such as myxomatosis Myxomatosis and tularemia Tularemia.

Special risks

Pathogenesis

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Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Frank R, Kuhn T, Mehlhorn H, Rueckert S, Pham D & Klimpel S (2013) Parasites of wild rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) from an urban area in Germany, in relation to worldwide results. Parasitol Res 112 (12), 4255-4266 PubMed.
  • Badr V & Borkovcova M (2005) Ecto- and endoparasites in remaining population of wild rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus (L., 1758) in east Bohemia. Acta Univ Agric Et Silvic Mendel Brun Llll 4, 7-14 VetMedResource.

Other sources of information

  • Barthold S W, Griffey S M, & Percy D H (2016) Rabbit. In: Pathology of Laboratory Rodents and Rabbits. Eds: Barthold S W, Griffey S M & Percy D H. 4th edn. Wiley Blackwell, USA. pp 253-323.
  • Harcourt-Brown F (2002) Textbook of Rabbit Medicine. Butterworth-Heinmann, UK.
  • Samuels W M, Pybus M J & Kocan A A (2001) Parasitic Diseases of Wild Mammals. 2nd edn. Manson Publishing, UK.

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