Date: 2010-07-07 17:44:20 UTC
Subject: [ferrethealth] Re: Reddened face on rescue - worry or no?
FIRST let the VET decide what is wrong.
SECOND notice that ferrets who have skin mites often have other medical
conditions which have already undermined their health.
I won't rehash the excellent information already posted here, but let
me add just a little bit. Ferrets can indeed get demodex mites, but
as Shelly said, they are usually associated with some form of
immunosuppression. I have seen only a few cases, and the majority
had distemper (a very immunosuppressive disease.) Long-term
prednisone would also be expected to result in Demodex infection.
The identification of a mite or two on a skin scrape in the absence
of clinical signs would not necessitate a diagnosis of mange - all
mammalians species have demodex mite - bet you have some in your
eyebrows right now. It is only when they get out of control that
clincal signs result. they are communicable only within a species -
dogs don't get human demodex, which don't get hamster demodex, etc -
only dog to dog, or presumably ferret to ferret (although you'd
likely need to immunosuppressed ferrets.
Regarding sarcoptes - we see very little of it in this country, but
it has historically been a problem in New Zealand. It particularly
affects the feet, and is intensely pruritic (itchy), with the animals
often mangling their own feet. Yes, the claws are also sorely
With kindest regards,
Bruce Williams, DVM
Yes, ferrets can get both Sarcoptes and Demodex mites,
although they are not common in ferrets. Sarcoptes is
contagious to people, but is easily cured. It is also
difficult to find on a skin scraping, as they will burrow into
the skin, so you may have to do several deep skin scrapings to
find them. If you do find them under a microscope, you can
pick them out as they have triangular spines on their backs
which is unique to Sarcoptes. The FDA approved treatment is
Revolution, although Ivermectin and Frontline are also used
with pretty good success. Usually diagnosis is by response to
treatment, rather than discovery of the mites, since it is so
hard to find them from a skin scraping.
Demodex mites are found on most animals normally without any
problems. As you said, they usually only become problematic
in animals with suppressed immune systems, or in some cases in
association with a debilitating disease. The isolation of a
few Demodex mites from a skin scraping is not considered
diagnostic, since they can be found normally without any
disease association, however a very large number of mites
found in association with clinical signs can be considered a
diagnosis. The FDA treatment is Mitaban (Amitraz), and it is
also about the only treatment that works - Demodectic mange is
not easily cured. Demodex is host specific - not contagious
Can you tell I just finished a parasitology course? Anyway,
hope that helps.
Dooks to your fuzzies,
Class of 2004 KSU Veterinary College
"There ain't no limit in this life to how far you can get,
but if you're going all the way, you gotta break a sweat."
- Chad Brock
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