Lice Of Laboratory Animals

Some lice that parasitize laboratory animals initiate serious health problems by causing pruritus, skin lesions, scab formation, anemia, and hair loss. Others are vectors of pathogens that can cause severe problems in animal colonies (Table III).

The mouse louse (P. serrata) is a vector of the bacterium Eperythrozoon coccoides, which causes murine eperythro-zoonosis, a potentially lethal infection of mice that occurs worldwide. Infection of this blood parasite in mice can either be inapparent or result in severe anemia. Transmission of this pathogen in louse-infested mouse colonies is usually rapid, The spined rat louse (P. spinuloses.) is a vector of the bacterium Haemobartonella muris, which causes murine fmemobartonellosis (Table III), another potentially fatal blood infection tiiat can cause severe anemia in laboratory rats.

Laboratory and wild guinea pigs are parasitized by two species of chewing lice, the slender guineapig louse

(Gliricola porcelli) and the ovalguineapig louse (Gyropus ovalis). Small numbers of these lice cause no noticeable harm, whereas large populations can cause host unthrifti-ness, scratching (especially behind the ears), hair loss, and a ruffled coat.

Large infestations of the rabbit louse (Huemodipsus ven-tricosis) can cause severe itching and scratching, which results in the host rubbing against its cage, often resulting in hair loss. Young rabbits are more adversely affected than are adults and may experience retarded growth as a consequence of infestation by H. ventricosis. The rabbit louse is also a vector of the causative agent of tularemia, among wild rabbit populations (Table III).

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