Disease: Demodicosis

This page provides general information about this condition; reveal the text by clicking on  the green headers. Press releases, results from DWHC investigations as well as other useful documents and relevant literature can be found at the bottom of the page.
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Demodicosis is a form of mange caused by species of the demodex mite. The mites, which are less than 0.5 mm in length, live in the hair follicles and when present in small numbers are considered to be a normal part of the skin fauna.

Susceptible species

Many different species of demodex mite have been identified in a range of mammals and most are host-specific. Demodex is occasionally reported in cases of mange in European wildlife including foxes, alpine chamois, common voles and hedgehogs. Recently, cases of demodicosis in European wildlife have included reports of demodex-associated alopecia in various species of deer in Belgium, the UK and the Netherlands.


Izdebska, J.N. & Rolbiecki. Demodex microti n. sp. (Acari: Demodecidae) in Microtus arvalis (Pallas) (Rodentia, Cricetidae) with a checklist of the demodecid mites of cricetids. L. Syst Parasitol (2013) 86: 187.

Salvadori Claudia , Formenti Nicoletta , Trogu Tiziana , Lanfranchi Paolo , Papini Roberto A. , Poli Alessandro. Demodicosis in Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra subsp. rupicapra) in the Italian Alps, 2013–14. Journal of wildlife diseases (2016) 52:2 433-435.

De Bosschere H, Casaer J, Neukermans A, et al. Severe alopecia due to demodicosis in roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) in Belgium. Vet J. 2007;174(3):665–668.

Signs in animals

When large numbers of demodex mite are present, possibly when the host immune system is weakened (immunosuppression), the mites can cause disease characterised by hair loss and thickened flakey skin; demodicosis tends to be non-pruritic (not cause itchiness). In some cases secondary bacterial infection may occur with pus formation and irritation.

Infection of animals

Neonates acquire demodex mites from their mothers and all stages of mite live within the hair follicles. The host immune system usually keeps the mite population in check.

Infection of people

Whilst several species of demodex affect humans, these are host-specific and infestation is acquired in newborns via contact of hair, eyebrows, and sebaceous glands on the nose. The species of demodex that are found in other animals are not thought  to be able to cross-infest humans.

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