Dermanyssus gallinae

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Dermanyssus gallinae
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Class: Arachnida
Order: Mesostigmata
Family: Dermanyssidae
Genus: Dermanyssus
D. gallinae
Binomial name
Dermanyssus gallinae
(De Geer, 1778)
Dermanyssus gallinae
Other namesRed mite, bird mite, poultry mite, red poultry mite, roost mite, chicken mite, pigeon mite
Female Dermanyssus gallinae with "stiletto-shaped mandibles"
SpecialtyVeterinary medicine, Infectious disease

Dermanyssus gallinae (also known as the red mite) is a haematophagous ectoparasite of poultry. It has been implicated as a vector of several major pathogenic diseases.[1][2] Despite its common names, it has a wide range of hosts including several species of wild birds and mammals, including humans, where the condition it causes is called gamasoidosis.[3][4] In both size and appearance, it resembles the northern fowl mite, Ornithonyssus sylviarum.[5]


Dermanyssus gallinae is an obligate blood feeder that will normally attack its host at night,[6] but will occasionally feed during the day.[7] Adults are 0.75–1 mm (0.030–0.039 in) long, with long legs and usually a grayish-white body, which becomes reddish-brown when engorged.[8] After feeding, they hide in cracks and crevices away from light sources, where they mate and lay eggs.[6] Mites progress through five life stages: egg, larva, protonymph, deutonymph and adult.[9] Under favourable conditions this life cycle can be completed within seven days, so populations can grow rapidly, causing anaemia in badly affected flocks of poultry.[10] Young birds are most susceptible. The mites can also affect the health of the birds indirectly, as they may serve as vectors for diseases such as Salmonellosis, avian spirochaetosis and Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae.[11][2] D. gallinae can survive for up to 10 months in an empty hen house. Temperatures greater than 45 °C (113 °F) and less than −20 °C (−4 °F), have been found to be lethal.[12]

Infestation in hens[edit]

Signs and symptoms[edit]

The mites normally feed around the breast and legs of hens, causing pain, irritation, and a decrease in egg production. Pustules, scabs, hyperpigmentation and feather loss may develop.

If they are present in large numbers, D. gallinae can cause anemia in hens[10] which presents as pallor of the comb and wattle.


A presumptive diagnosis can be made in flocks of laying hens, usually based on a history of decreasing egg production, anaemia and mortalities in young or ill birds. Blood spots on eggs indicate infestation within the cloaca of an affected hen. Definitive diagnosis is only achieved following identification of eggs, feces or the mites themselves.


There are several methods for preventing infestation in hen houses including:

  • Heating the henhouse to temperatures above 55 °C (131 °F).
  • Regular washing down of the housing system.
  • Treatment of the walls and floors with silica dust or carbolineum prior to introduction of the new hens.[13]


Ectoparasiticides can be used to treat affected poultry, these chemical controls, if used, should be used in rotation to avoid the buildup of resistance.[14] Organophosphates,[15] carbamates,[15] and pyrethroids[15][3] are widely used. The first case of pyrethroid resistance was reported by Beugnet et al 1997[3] and new cases continue to be reported as of 2020 by Katsavou et al 2020.[15] The insecticide spinosad is effective against mites resistant to the veteran acaricides and can even be used on premises in the presence of the laying hens.[16] A novel product, Exzolt was introduced in the EU in 2017,[17] it contains fluralaner, an isoxazoline, and is highly effective against D. gallinae, included those resistant to old acaricides. It is approved for oral administration mixed with the drinking water and has a systemic mode of action, i.e. it acts through the blood of the treated birds.[17] The macrocyclic lactones eprinomectin, moxidectin or ivermectin have been shown to impact mite reproduction and blood-meal digestion in one study,[18] though other studies found ivermectin to be ineffective except at doses "unfavourably close to those causing toxicity".[19]

Predatory mites such as Androlaelaps casalis and Hypoaspis miles can be used to control D. gallinae populations.[20]

Exposing mites to carbon dioxide using dry ice and direct-spraying has been proposed as a novel treatment.[21]

Vaccines are currently under active development for the treatment of poultry, which seek to "stimulate a protective response" in the birds and increase D. gallinae mortality.[22]

Some plant essential oil products can act as repellents.[3][15] Birkett et al 2011 and George et al 2009 identify particular plants whose EOs successfully repel D. gallinae.[3][15]

Infestation in humans[edit]

Dermanyssus gallinae piercing skin with its long chelicerae to reach dermal capillaries (not to scale).

In humans, D. gallinae infestations are known as gamasoidosis or dermanyssosis.[23] The mites are capable of digesting[24] and reproducing entirely on human blood, so infestations can be persistent.[4] Due to the nocturnal feeding habits of D. gallinae, infested people may experience itching and notice bites when they wake up in the morning.[25] The severity of symptoms vary, with dermatitis,[26] pruritus and papular urticaria being common.[23]

Prevention of infestation in human habitation consists of eliminating potential vectors such as destroying pigeon and sparrow nests[27] and treating infested backyard poultry.[28]

Elimination of an infestation in a human habitation is best achieved through a combination of eliminating potential vectors (nesting pigeons, backyard poultry, etc.); reducing potential hiding places (rugs, clutter); judicious use of pesticides; consistent use of dehumidifiers to maintain a low humidity environment; maintaining a low temperature in the environment; frequent thorough cleaning; minimizing the amount of time spent in the home; and maintaining excellent hygiene.[29][30]

Infestation in other animals[edit]

Dermanyssus gallinae will also feed on mammals, including cats, dogs, rodents, rabbits, horses.[4] Infestation by D. gallinae is rare in cats and dogs; usually the extremities and the back are bitten, causing itching.[31]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Desloire, Sophie; Valiente Moro, Claire; Chauve, Claude; Zenner, Lionel (2006). "Comparison of four methods of extracting DNA from D. gallinae (Acari: Dermanyssidae)". Veterinary Research. 37 (5): 725–732. doi:10.1051/vetres:2006031. PMID 16820136.
  2. ^ a b Schiavone, Antonella; Pugliese, Nicola; Otranto, Domenico; Samarelli, Rossella; Circella, Elena; De Virgilio, Caterina; Camarda, Antonio (2022-01-20). "Dermanyssus gallinae: the long journey of the poultry red mite to become a vector". Parasites & Vectors. 15 (1): 29. doi:10.1186/s13071-021-05142-1. ISSN 1756-3305. PMC 8772161. PMID 35057849.
  3. ^ a b c d e Sparagano, O.A.E.; George, D.R.; Harrington, D.W.J.; Giangaspero, A. (2014). "Significance and Control of the Poultry Red Mite, Dermanyssus gallinae". Annual Review of Entomology. 59: 447–466. doi:10.1146/annurev-ento-011613-162101. PMID 24397522.
  4. ^ a b c George DR, Finn RD, Graham KM, Mul MF, Maurer V, Moro CV, Sparagano OA (March 2015). "Should the poultry red mite Dermanyssus gallinae be of wider concern for veterinary and medical science?". Parasites & Vectors. 8: 178. doi:10.1186/s13071-015-0768-7. PMC 4377040. PMID 25884317.
  5. ^ Weisbroth, Steven H. (1960). "The Differentiation of Dermanyssus gallinae from Ornithonyssus sylviarum". Avian Diseases. 4 (2): 133–137. doi:10.2307/1587499. JSTOR 1587499.
  6. ^ a b Sokół, Rajmund; Koziatek-Sadłowska, Sylwia; Michalczyk, Maria (2019-02-01). "The influence of Dermanyssus gallinae and different lighting regimens on selected blood proteins, corticosterone levels and egg production in layer hens". Veterinary Research Communications. 43 (1): 31–36. doi:10.1007/s11259-018-9743-z. ISSN 1573-7446. PMID 30612297.
  7. ^ Haag‐Wackernagel, D. (2005). "Parasites from feral pigeons as a health hazard for humans". Annals of Applied Biology. 147 (2): 203–210. doi:10.1111/j.1744-7348.2005.00029.x. ISSN 1744-7348.
  8. ^ Sparagano, O.A.E.; Giangaspero, A. (2011). "Parasitism in egg production systems: The role of the red mite (Dermanyssus gallinae)". Improving the Safety and Quality of Eggs and Egg Products. pp. 394–414. doi:10.1533/9780857093912.3.394. ISBN 9781845697549.
  9. ^ Bruneau, A.; Dernburg, A.; Chauve, C.; Zenner, L. (June 2001). "First in vitro cycle of the chicken mite, Dermanyssus gallinae (DeGeer 1778), utilizing an artificial feeding device". Parasitology. 123 (6): 583–589. doi:10.1017/S0031182001008836. ISSN 1469-8161. PMID 11814045. S2CID 22213397.
  10. ^ a b Kilpinen, O.; Roepstorff, A.; Permin, A.; Nørgaard-Nielsen, G.; Lawson, L. G.; Simonsen, H. B. (2005-02-01). "Influence of Dermanyssus gallinae and Ascaridia galli infections on behaviour and health of laying hens (Gallus gallus domesticus)". British Poultry Science. 46 (1): 26–34. doi:10.1080/00071660400023839. ISSN 0007-1668. PMID 15835249. S2CID 12646759.
  11. '^ Chirico, J.; Eriksson, H.; Fossum, O.; Jansson, D. (2003). "The poultry red mite, Dermanyssus gallinae, a potential vector of Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae causing erysipelas in hens". Medical and Veterinary Entomology. 17 (2): 232–234. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2915.2003.00428.x. PMID 12823843. S2CID 24997699.
  12. ^ Nordenfors, Helena; Höglund, Johan; Uggla, Arvid (1999). "Effects of Temperature and Humidity on Oviposition, Molting, and Longevity of Dermanyssus gallinae (Acari: Dermanyssidae)". Journal of Medical Entomology. 36 (1): 68–72. doi:10.1093/jmedent/36.1.68. PMID 10071495.
  13. ^ Mul, Monique F.; Koenraadt, Constantianus J. M. (2009). "Preventing introduction and spread of Dermanyssus gallinae in poultry facilities using the HACCP method". Experimental and Applied Acarology. 48 (1–2): 167–181. doi:10.1007/s10493-009-9250-6. PMID 19221882. S2CID 5309397.
  14. ^ Chauve, Claude (1998). "The poultry red mite Dermanyssus gallinae (De Geer, 1778): Current situation and future prospects for control". Veterinary Parasitology. 79 (3): 239–245. doi:10.1016/S0304-4017(98)00167-8. PMID 9823064.
  15. ^ a b c d e f Soulié, Anne-Sophie; Sleeckx, Nathalie; Roy, Lise (2021-01-06). "Repellent properties of natural substances against Dermanyssus gallinae: review of knowledge and prospects for Integrated Pest Management". Acarologia. Les Amis d'Acarologia (INRA). 61 (1): 3–19. doi:10.24349/acarologia/20214412. ISSN 0044-586X. S2CID 234349312. HAL Id: 03099408.
  16. ^ George, D.R.; Shiel, R.S.; Appleby, W.G.C.; Knox, A.; Guy, J.H. (2010). "In vitro and in vivo acaricidal activity and residual toxicity of spinosad to the poultry red mite, Dermanyssus gallinae". Veterinary Parasitology. 173 (3–4): 307–316. doi:10.1016/j.vetpar.2010.06.035. PMID 20655147.
  17. ^ a b Brauneis, Maria D.; Zoller, Hartmut; Williams, Heike; Zschiesche, Eva; Heckeroth, Anja R. (2017). "The acaricidal speed of kill of orally administered fluralaner against poultry red mites (Dermanyssus gallinae) on laying hens and its impact on mite reproduction". Parasites & Vectors. 10 (1): 594. doi:10.1186/s13071-017-2534-5. PMC 5712167. PMID 29197422.
  18. ^ Xu, Xiaolin; Wang, Chuanwen; Zhang, Shudong; Huang, Yu; Pan, Tingting; Wang, Bohan; Pan, Baoliang (2019-07-12). "Acaricidal efficacy of orally administered macrocyclic lactones against poultry red mites (Dermanyssus gallinae) on chicks and their impacts on mite reproduction and blood-meal digestion". Parasites & Vectors. 12 (1): 345. doi:10.1186/s13071-019-3599-0. ISSN 1756-3305. PMC 6624947. PMID 31300011.
  19. ^ Zeman, P. (1987). "Systemic efficacy of ivermectin against Dermanyssus gallinae (De Geer, 1778) in fowls". Veterinary Parasitology. 23 (1–2): 141–146. doi:10.1016/0304-4017(87)90032-X. PMID 3564341.
  20. ^ Lesna, Izabela; Sabelis, Maurice W.; Van Niekerk, Thea G. C. M.; Komdeur, Jan (2012). "Laboratory tests for controlling poultry red mites (Dermanyssus gallinae) with predatory mites in small 'laying hen' cages". Experimental and Applied Acarology. 58 (4): 371–383. doi:10.1007/s10493-012-9596-z. PMC 3487000. PMID 22773110.
  21. ^ Kang, JeongWoo; Hossain, Md Akil; Jeong, Jiyeon; Park, Haechul; Kim, Jin-Hyun; Kang, Min-Su; Kwon, Yong-Kuk; Kim, Yong-Sang; Park, Sung-Won (2020-03-18). "Application of carbon dioxide as a novel approach to eradicate poultry red mites". Journal of Veterinary Science. 21 (2): e37. doi:10.4142/jvs.2020.21.e37. ISSN 1976-555X. PMC 7113580. PMID 32233140.
  22. ^ Harrington, David; Canales, Mario; de la Fuente, José; De Luna, Carlos; Robinson, Karen; Guy, Jonathan; Sparagano, Olivier (2009). "Immunisation with recombinant proteins subolesin and Bm86 for the control of Dermanyssus gallinae in poultry". Vaccine. 27 (30): 4056–4063. doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2009.04.014. PMID 19501789.
  23. ^ a b James WD, Berger T, Elston D (2015). "Parasitic infestations, stings and bites: Gamasoidosis". Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology (12 ed.). Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 446. ISBN 9780323319690.
  24. ^ Williams, R. W. (1958). "An infestation of a human habitation by Dermanyssus gallinae (Degeer, 1778) (Acarina: Dermanyssidae) in New York City resulting in sanguisugent attacks upon the occupants". The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 7 (6): 627–629. doi:10.4269/ajtmh.1958.7.627. ISSN 0002-9637. PMID 13595207.
  25. ^ Kos L, Galbraith S (2011). "Infections and infestations". In Schachner LA, Hansen RC (eds.). Pediatric dermatology (4th ed.). St. Louis, Mo.: Mosby/Elsevier. pp. 1576–1578. ISBN 9780723436652.
  26. ^ Rosen, S.; Yeruham, I.; Braverman, Y. (2002). "Dermatitis in humans associated with the mites Pyemotes tritici, Dermanyssus gallinae, Ornithonyssus bacoti and Androlaelaps casalis in Israel". Medical and Veterinary Entomology. 16 (4): 442–444. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2915.2002.00386.x. PMID 12510897. S2CID 21453929.
  27. ^ Bellanger, A. P.; Bories, C.; Foulet, F.; Bretagne, S.; Botterel, F. (2008). "Nosocomial Dermatitis Caused by Dermanyssus gallinae". Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology. 29 (3): 282–283. doi:10.1086/528815. PMID 18205530. S2CID 205985989.
  28. ^ Whitehead, M. L.; Roberts, V. (2014). "Backyard poultry: Legislation, zoonoses and disease prevention". Journal of Small Animal Practice. 55 (10): 487–496. doi:10.1111/jsap.12254. PMID 25109514.
  29. ^ "Bird mites - prevention and treatment". Retrieved 2020-02-24.
  30. ^ Cafiero, Maria Assunta; Barlaam, Alessandra; Camarda, Antonio; Radeski, Miroslav; Mul, Monique; Sparagano, Olivier; Giangaspero, Annunziata (2019-09-13). "Dermanysuss gallinae attacks humans. Mind the gap!". Avian Pathology. 48 (sup1): S22–S34. doi:10.1080/03079457.2019.1633010. hdl:11586/240540. ISSN 0307-9457. PMID 31264450.
  31. ^ Paterson S (2009). "Dermanyssus gallinae". Manual of skin diseases of the dog and cat (2nd ed.). Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 118–119. ISBN 9781444309324.

External links[edit]

Media related to Dermanyssus gallinae at Wikimedia Commons