Pet gerbils source of avian mite infestation

Does your family have pet gerbils? If so, they are a possible source of your itchy skin condition, according to this 2001 article in the Archives of Dermatology.

Avian Mite Bites Acquired From a New Source Pet Gerbils

Report of 2 Cases and Review of the Literature

Anne W. Lucky, MD; C. Paul Sayers, MD; J. David Argus, DVM; Andrea Lucky, BA

Arch Dermatol. 2001;137:167-170.


Background Cutaneous manifestations of avian mite bites are not well recognized by physicians or patients. Clinical signs and symptoms are usually caused by bites from avian mites that have infested domestic poultry or birds nesting in or near human habitation. This report details 2 cases of pruritic papules acquired from avian mites that had infested pet gerbils and reviews the dermatologic literature about avian mites.

An 11-year-old boy and an unrelated 10-year-old girl each had mysterious, pruritic papules for many months before their pet gerbils were found to be infested with Ornithonyssus sylviarum (the northern fowl mite) and Dermanyssus gallinae (the chicken mite), respectively. Symptoms resolved when the gerbils were removed from the home.

Because infestation of pet gerbils with avian mites has never been reported, cases of avian mite bites and dermatitis may have gone unrecognized or misdiagnosed. Inquiry about ownership of pet gerbils may be helpful in patients with mysterious bites.

You can read the whole article here at the Archives of Dermatology.

Remember, if you think something’s biting you, go and see a doctor and rule out scabies, body lice, and other conditions the doctor can treat. If you may have bird mites, rat mites, or another infestation, seek the advice of a good pest management professional. You cannot get rid of this on your own.