Itchy Parasites of Sheep (Mites)

Ectoparasites include ticks, mites, flies, fleas and mosquitoes. By various means, they attack their hosts. Ectoparasites spend their whole life span on hosts and get nourishment for their growth.Some parasites spend some of their lives on hosts and rest on surrounding environment.

Itchy Parasites of Sheep (Mites)

Due to attacks of these parasites, not only a country’s gross production is affected but these parasites also carry infectious diseases and germs with them. This affects both the production and animal’s health. Mites live on animal’s skin. They not only affect the skin of animal but also damage their health.

Mites are found in Pakistan as well as well as in various countries. In developed countries i.e. USA and UK etc., special measures for eradication of these mites are being adopted but they are not totally terminated. In developing countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, mites affect alot. Due to this, annual production is also lowers and it also diminishes our export values.

Mites affect and produce damage from birth till adultry. They affect skin of animals and also fascinating nature of an animal is also lost. This lowers the cost value of an animal during it’s sale. This harms both the country and animal’s owner.

These mites are not only found in animals but they also harm humans. This occurs when a human gets closer to the animal, it’s waste, it’s skin or when humans touch that infected animal. These parasites also transfer from one human to the other by daily used things i.e. comb, towel, clothes etc.


Ectoparasites look very small visually. Their body is diffracted and their skin is covered by hard chitin. There are eight legs on their body on which there are brown hairs. These look like an egg and color is like a yolk. Size of male parasites is 50 mm and that of female is 65 mm. Their head have two antennae.

Life span:

Ectoparasites spend their whole life on hosts. Their saliva have special chemicals which help in feeding on animal’s skin. Where these tiny parasite bites, burrows are formed and female lay eggs in these tunnels which are small in size and more in number. These are white in color. In favorable environment, these eggs hatch and offsprings start proper lives.

Larva has six legs. Four of their fore-legs have suckers and 2 posterior legs have hairs. Larva transforms into nymph which has eight legs. Posterior four legs have hairs.

Adult is brown in color that forms tunnels in skin. In case, it doesn’t do so, it dies early. It keeps feeding on animal’s skin and animal doesn’t even feel it and even there is no irritation. But afterwards later effects are observed. Duration between laying of one leg and the other is 15 days. Whereas, the whole life span of these ectoparasites is 30-40 days.

Species of Itchy Parasites (Mites):

Mites that cause irritation in sheep have 4 species that include sarcoptic, corioptic, bisoroptic and demodex. These 4 species harm the animal on the basis of their specific features. Usually most abundant specie is bisoroptic that are controlled very difficultly. Other 3 species produce less harm.

Sarcoptic mites mostly harm the face and head skin. Corioptic mites are found in animal’s legs. Where there are hairs, they cause irritation over skin. Out of these species Demodex mites are the tiniest that even attack inside the hair follicles that form bruises over skin.

Mites attack and their effects:

Mostly ectoparasites cause diseases in rainy season. They collect their nourishment by attacking on animal’s skin. So, due to their bites, skin becomes itchy and sprain is formed. Puss is seen and on getting dry tunnels are formed. Their peripheries are red, shiny and wet which are signs of observance that mites have attacked. Affected areas slowly grows on, then wool of sheep stars slouphing by getting dead.


In rural areas, due to lack of medicines people use turpentine oil on affected areas for mites control. This is not an effective treatment. Some people use ashes that is not a good thing to apply. For the control of mites Lime sulphur solution is an effective treatment. After the mites attack, effected animals are dipped in the lime sulphur solution but face area is remained out of it and same treatment is repeated. Apart from this,

  • Nicotine sulphate solution is also used as treatment.
  • Chloride powder is also used on damaged region
  • Ivermectin injection is also used for treatment.
  • Preventive measures:
  • Infected animals should be kept away from other animals
  • Animal shed should be kept clean
  • Before bringing new animal’s to shed, sitting area should be altered
  • Shed walls should be colored with lime.
  • Animals should be dipped in pesticides solution
  • Pesticide medicines should be used.
  • Sunshine should be provided to animals so that no part of animal remains wet

The purpose of writing this article is, an ordinary man who doesn’t know about the medicinal process is given guidance easily about medical treatment against mites so that he keeps his animals safe from disease carrying parasites and timely use pesticides.

If animals are attacked by parasites so by observing clinical signs, quickly conversate with the nearest veterinary hospital and get fine treatment. For more guidance, in University of Agriculture Faisalabad, procedures for parasites control are carried out. So that in future, sheep are kept safe against itchy parasites, more exports and production are done that will make our country prosper economically.

Dr. Saba Mehnaz,Dr. Muhammad Abdullah Abid

Department of Parasitology, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad

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