Exotis ISSN 2398-2985

Guinea Pigs

Pediculosis

Synonym(s): Biting lice, Lice infestation, Nits

Contributor(s): Cathy Johnson-Delaney, Vicki Baldrey

Introduction

  • Cause: biting lice: Gliricola porcelli, Gyropus ovalis.
  • Signs: usually benign, but can cause scratching, partial alopecia, scabs (usually seen around the ears), lice visualized on hair.
  • Diagnosis: visualization of immature or adult lice on hair, nits on hair shafts.
  • Treatment: ivermectin, pyrethroid topical flea dusts, lime sulfur dip.
  • Prognosis: good if environment treated and all affected guinea pigs if multiple in household.
Print off the Owner factsheets on AlopeciaCommon health problems, Parasitic skin diseases and Skin problems to give to your clients.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Biting lice in suborder Mallophaga.
  • Gliricola porcelli Gliricola porcelli is the slender guinea pig louse: narrow head and body approximately 1.0-1.5 mm long.
  • Gyropus ovalis Gyropus ovalis is the oval guinea pig louse: wide head and oval abdomen approximately 1.0-1.2 mm long.
  • Biting lice abrade the skin to obtain fluid.
  • Gliricola porcelli is the most common, although both may be found on a host.

Predisposing factors

General

  • Decreased resistance due to immunomodulation from stress, other disease processes.
  • Young animals housed in unsanitary environments.

Specific

  • Immune system depression seen with vitamin C deficiency Vitamin C deficiency.
  • Immune system depression seen with:
    • Inadequate diet.
    • Overcrowding.
    • Poor husbandry.
    • Concurrent disease.

Pathophysiology

  • Biting lice abrade the skin to obtain fluid.
  • Scabs may be due to these abrasions and/or due to scratching if pruritus present.
  • Alopecia Alopecia may be seen in heavy infestations if affecting hair growth, or if there has been scratching and subsequent hair loss.

Timecourse

  • Direct contact for transmission of lice and nits, may be rapid, but pet owner may not notice until there are large numbers.

Epidemiology

  • Transmission is by direct contact with infested animal or bedding.
  • Lice seldom leave a living host.
  • All life cycle phases occur on the host.
  • Nits (ova) are cemented to the hair.
  • Exfoliated hair with hatching nits may then infest the host on contact.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • Harkness J E, Turner P V, VandeWoude S & Wheler C L (2010) Harkness and Wagner's Biology and Medicine of Rabbits and Rodents. 5th edn. Wiley-Blackwell. pp 361-363.
  • Johnson-Delaney C A (2010) Guinea Pigs, Chinchillas, Degus and Duprasi. In: BSAVA Manual of Exotic Pets. 5th edn. Eds: Meredith A & Johnson-Delaney C. British Small Animal Veterinary Association. pp 28-62.
  • Hrapkiewicz K & Medina L (2007) Clinical Laboratory Animal Medicine an Introduction. 3rd edn. Blackwell Publishing. pp 171.


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