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Cheyletiella parasitovax (Walking Dandruff) in Rabbits

Cheyletiella parasitovax (Walking Dandruff) in Rabbits

Cheyletiella parasitovax, also known as walking dandruff, is a mild dermatitis caused by fur mites in rabbits. It is primarily transmitted by direct contact between infested and non-infested rabbits. The mites can survive in the environment for several days, so spread may also occur through contaminated hay or bedding.

Symptoms:

The mites cause skin irritation in most affected animals. This may lead to hair loss, scaling (dandruff), itchiness, redness and scab formation, usually on the back and neck areas. The dandruff scales may appear to be moving as the mites move about underneath them – this is sometimes better demonstrated if you place the scales on a dark surface. Some rabbits and cats may not show any apparent symptoms of C. parasitovax infestation.

Rabbit with walking dandruff.

If you notice any of these symptoms on your rabbit it is advisable to take your rabbit to your local vet promptly for diagnosis and treatment.

Diagnosis:

Diagnosis is by identification of the mite. This may be possible with the naked eye or using a magnifying glass in heavier infestations, but in other cases it may be necessary to examine hair or skin scrapings under a microscope.

Treatment:

There are several different treatments available – your vet will be able to determine which one is best for your rabbit. Most commonly treatment involves a course of either injections or spot on treatments (such as Xeno 450). The rabbit should be re-examined at the end of the course of treatment to ensure that the infestation has cleared completely.

It is just as important to ensure that the environment is properly treated, in order to avoid re-infestation. This is done by removing all hay and bedding from the hutch, disinfecting it thoroughly and then using an insecticidal fog or spray that is effective against Cheyletiella.

Cheyletiella in humans:

Occasionally humans exposed to this parasite will develop mild skin lesions – these may be itchy and can form open sores in very severe cases. If you suspect yourself or a member of your family may be infested you should consult your local GP.