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Med Vet Entomol. 2003 Jun;17(2):232-4.

The poultry red mite, Dermanyssus gallinae, a potential vector of Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae causing erysipelas in hens.

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  • 1Department of Parasitology (SWEPAR), National Veterinary Institute, SE-751 89 Uppsala, Sweden.


Erysipelas is a bacterial disease caused by Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, which may infect swine as well as several other species of mammals and birds, including domestic fowl. In poultry, erysipelas may cause sudden high mortality due to septicemia. This communication describes the first isolation of E. rhusiopathiae from the haematophagous poultry red mite, Dermanyssus gallinae DeGeer (Acari: Dermanyssidae), that was collected on three farms where hen erysipelas was diagnosed. The bacteria were isolated from the integument as well as from the interior of the mites. Serotypes 1a and 1b of E. rhusiopathiae found in the mites corresponded with those isolated from the diseased birds. These findings imply that D. gallinae is a potential vector of E. rhusiopathiae. The current lack of effective measures to control D. gallinae causes recurring mite problems in poultry facilities once afflicted by this parasite. Consequently, mites containing E. rhusiopathiae may act as reservoir hosts of this bacterium, allowing it to persist in the poultry house between flock cycles as a source of infection for the replacement pullets. The zoonotic potentials of both E. rhusiopathiae and D. gallinae should also be considered.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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