Cheyletiellosis is a parasite infection of the skin and the coat. The symptoms resemble those of a superficial dermatitis. It is possible for the infection to spread to humans as well.
After infestation by mites, affected animals show intense itching. One characteristic of this condition is excessive dandruff, which is especially apparent around the head, the ears and the back. The animal’s limbs and trunk are usually not affected. Small or medium-sized dandruff particles can be seen in between the hairs of the animal’s coat, or remain in places where the animals has been resting. In some cases, dogs can be infested with cheyletiella mites while showing no obvious symptoms and infect other dogs. In humans, small itching red spots can occur on skin that has been in contact with an infected animal. Unfortunately, these lesions are often misinterpreted as mosquito bites. Still, in the case of humans, the parasites’ eggs cannot develop further, and symptoms disappear after a few days.
Cheyletiella mites dig into the animal’s skin superficially and do not penetrate it. The eggs of the female mite are attached to the hair of the patient. They develop within six weeks into adult mites. Transmission occurs through direct contact with an infected animal. Dogs, cats, rabbits and guinea pigs are susceptible. Indirect transmission through vectors (resting places, dog toys etc) is possible, as mites can remain in such places long after the host has left.
Diagnosis of cheylietella mites can be achieved by simply applying a magnifying glass to the coat hair of affected regions. Alternatively, a sample of superficial skin can be used. Mites may be removed with effective medication or washing lotions. If secondary skin infections are present, antibiotics have to be administered. Treatment for the removal of these mites is usually longer than for other mites, as cheyletiella shows a relatively long development cycle.
Cheyletiella mites are often seen in rabbits and guinea pigs, and direct contact between these animals and dogs should be avoided if possible. A prophylactic mite treatment is normally not used. If the symptoms mentioned above occur, consult a veterinarian. The patient should be immediately separated from any other dogs or cats that you are keeping. Please inform your vet in advance about your visit, so that ample preparations can be made and infestation of other animals avoided. All animals in your household should be treated, even if they show no symptoms. Also, your dog’s environment and all objects that have been in contact with your dog (car, kennel, tools, sleeping box) have to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Anti-parasitic agents are usually found to be useful, as they permanently remove the parasite.