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Vet Dermatol. 2015 Aug;26(4):239-e53. doi: 10.1111/vde.12206.

Identification of a third feline Demodex species through partial sequencing of the 16S rDNA and frequency of Demodex species in 74 cats using a PCR assay.

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Department of Animal Medicine and Surgery, Veterinary School, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Travesera dels Turrons, Cerdanyola del Vallès, Bellaterra, 08193, Barcelona, Spain.
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, 801 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, 90095, USA.
Servei Veterinari de Genètica Molecular, Facultat de Veterinària, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Travesera dels Turrons, Cerdanyola del Vallès, Bellaterra, 08193, Barcelona, Spain.
Vetgenomics, Parc de Recerca, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Edifici Eureka, Avinguda de Can Domènech (Campus de la UAB), Cerdanyola del Vallès, Bellaterra, 08193, Barcelona, Spain.
Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, 200 Westboro Road, North Grafton, MA, 01536, USA.



Demodex cati and Demodex gatoi are considered the two Demodex species of cats. However, several reports have identified Demodex mites morphologically different from these two species. The differentiation of Demodex mites is usually based on morphology, but within the same species different morphologies can occur. DNA amplification/sequencing has been used effectively to identify and differentiate Demodex mites in humans, dogs and cats.


The aim was to develop a PCR technique to identify feline Demodex mites and use this technique to investigate the frequency of Demodex in cats.


Demodex cati, D. gatoi and Demodex mites classified morphologically as the third unnamed feline species were obtained. Hair samples were taken from 74 cats. DNA was extracted; a 330 bp fragment of the 16S rDNA was amplified and sequenced.


The sequences of D. cati and D. gatoi shared >98% identity with those published on GenBank. The sequence of the third unnamed species showed 98% identity with a recently published feline Demodex sequence and only 75.2 and 70.9% identity with D. gatoi and D. cati sequences, respectively. Demodex DNA was detected in 19 of 74 cats tested; 11 DNA sequences corresponded to Demodex canis, five to Demodex folliculorum, three to D. cati and two to Demodex brevis.


Three Demodex species can be found in cats, because the third unnamed Demodex species is likely to be a distinct species. Apart from D. cati and D. gatoi, DNA from D. canis, D. folliculorum and D. brevis was found on feline skin.

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