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#88652 - 03/19/10 01:14 PM Can I Get Bird Mites from My Birds?
Julia Offline
New Egg

Registered: 03/19/10
Posts: 3
Loc: Oregon
I have kept three pullets for three years. I have never treated them for anything, but their vent areas look very, very clean. They each lay every day and seem healthy. We have temps below freezing for several days at a time each winter. Honestly, until today I had never heard that humans can catch bird mites, or I would have been more careful. We just don't get as many bugs here in Oregon as everywhere else.

Recently my daughter has bites that seem a bit like chigger bites (along panty line and at wrists), but they look like mosquito bites. Oregon generally does not have chiggers, and she has not been outside hiking much this year.

So I considered bed bugs, of course, which are also very rare in Oregon. I have not seen a bug or any sign on the mattress. I started to wonder if this could be from the birds and thought I would ask you folks. I have looked all over the Internet and still haven't found anything that matched what I saw on her (a straight line of 10 mosquito-like bites along the top of her underwear).

Seriously, what I read about bird mites is scary enough that I would consider getting rid of this small flock just in case.

Thanks for all your anticipated help!

Julia

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#88653 - 03/19/10 01:24 PM Re: Can I Get Bird Mites from My Birds? [Re: Julia]
Foehn Offline
Administrator
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 1968
Loc: New Zealand
I don't think chook mites would stay to do that sort of damage. Human mites are called scabbies, but they tend to bite anywhere and everywhere. Bites along a panty line sound a lot more like flea bites. You could turn out clothes over a white bath and run your fingers along the seams to see if any little black hoppers fall out. We have a small biting midge here that bites like that (also called a sandfly), though you would be more likely to get bitten on legs.

Are you sure they are not mosquito bites?

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#88656 - 03/19/10 02:11 PM Re: Can I Get Bird Mites from My Birds? [Re: Foehn]
CJR Online   content
Coop Master

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 8490
Loc: Montana
Julia, not to worry, and Oregon has just as many chances to have poultry mites/lice as any other State. I lived just out of Portland for 30 years--100s of chickens!

There are mites and lice that can inhabit on poultry, two different parasites. All of the species are host-specific. You do not carry chicken (bird) mites or lice on people, although they will certainly crawl on you, if your chicken is heavily infested and drive you crazy with itching--but DO NOT live on people. You would know if your hens were heavily infested--unlikely! Bird mites wash off with soap and water from hands, arms, head, etc., wash easily from clothing. Chicken lice do not stay on people at all. I have experienced this from time to time and never had a "bite" or mark--just washed them off (as quickly as possible).

There are "people" lice, different kinds, and require a doctor's prescription salve or wash to eliminate them easily. Children sometimes "catch" head lice--a people critter--from borrowing combs from an infected child or mugging.

No need to dispose of your hens; just inspect them for mites or lice. Doubtless NOT lice, as you would see them easily, around the vent--attached and bloodsucking. Now mites, you have to look quickly, if a mild infestation (common). They are as small as a pin tip (not the head of a pin) and crawl on the skin so quickly, under the down or feathers around the vent, that if you are slow--they will be out of sight--and you may think there are NONE. There are Poultry dusts to treat the birds (ON THE SKIN, not on the tops of feathers, as they do not live there. They are blood eaters and are concentrated around the vent unless a real load of them, then check the area around the oil gland. One or two treatments (wear gloves and a mask for your own safety--not to inhale the dust) will likely clear them off the birds.

What does it sound like on your daughter? Fleas. Oregon is great flea territory--lawn. Do you have a dog or cat in the house? Fleas also do not live on people but DO bite and leave a welt, sometimes larger than a mosquito bite.

So, you must be a sleuth and find what it is--no not chiggers, not likely bedbugs (but simple wash of bedding and vacuum mattress can eliminate any possibility--they are too small to see, it is so unlikely!

My guess, maybe fleas--and they can be seen and caught, decapitated to kill then. Does your daughter have a kitty that loves to creep under the covers with her? (Mine did.) Well, that is a guess.

Good luck, and don't blame the hens for this.

CJR

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#88666 - 03/19/10 08:19 PM Re: Can I Get Bird Mites from My Birds? [Re: CJR]
Richard in MA Offline
Flock Leader

Registered: 01/23/07
Posts: 332
Loc: Massachusetts
I do not want to sound like an alarmist here but, even though I have read over and over again that poultry mites do not bite humans, I have been bitten on several occasions. I know this to be fact, not just supposition. You do need to understand that poultry mites cannot LIVE on people. That is, they are very host specific so will not stay on you, come into the house and infest your living space or actively seek people out. However, a few times, when handling poultry carrying mites, especially when I am treating them, I typically get some bites on my forearms or on my abdomen- generally wherever the birds have been held in contact with myself. The bites are very similar to that of chiggars (had those from travelling in Panama) but the only time I am ever bitten is when I am actively handling and restraining birds carrying mites. I am sure that they are mistaken bites as I am never bitten otherwise.

All of this being said, if you are not seeing any mites on your birds this might not be what is affecting your daughter. It certainly would not be any reason to depopulate the flock. However, if your daughter likes to sit with the birds on her lap or otherwise has frequent close contact with them it may still be a possibility.


Edited by RichardMA (03/19/10 08:22 PM)

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#88672 - 03/20/10 07:56 AM Re: Can I Get Bird Mites from My Birds? [Re: Richard in MA]
IPF Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 04/08/08
Posts: 466
Loc: Canada
Have you looked for roost mites? They spend their days tucked into cracks or congregated in clusters on the underside of roosts or other surfaces. I'd be amazed if you DON'T have them, if you've never treated for them.

I'm just a bit north of you (right beside the US San Juan Islands) and we get roost mites. And yeah, they bite people, but as CJR says, they don't live on people.

Like mosquitoes, they prefer some people to others; or perhaps some just react more. I konw it's time to treat the birds when I get those tell-tale bumps that sound just like your daughter's, but my husband has no reaction.

As far as I know (and I've read extensively) bird mites don't carry any diseases that can infect people; I definitely wouldn't advise getting rid of your birds!

Two solutions: Eprinex, developed for cattle but applied "off-license" on chickens - very effective - do a google on it and you'll see. Eprinex will kill all parasites, internal and external, and (for cattle) has no meat or milk (so, I conclude, egg) withdrawal period.

Or, simpler and cheaper, get an "Ortho Home Defense MAX No-Pest Strip" and hang it in your coop. It's amazing! As long as your coop is a reasonably confined space, it will kill mites within a couple of days; leave it up and it will get the new ones as they hatch. Again, google it and read up on it.

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#88698 - 03/23/10 07:30 PM Re: Can I Get Bird Mites from My Birds? [Re: IPF]
Uno Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/26/05
Posts: 1280
Loc: Canada
WHen my birds had mites they did crawl on me. If they bit me, I had no reaction. Flea bites fit the description of along a panty line and at wrists. Typical flea behaviour.

Mites are easily removed from your hen house. No reason to get rid of your flock because of mites.

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#88700 - 03/23/10 08:57 PM Re: Can I Get Bird Mites from My Birds? [Re: Uno]
Dirt Road Offline
Bantam

Registered: 08/18/08
Posts: 61
Loc: Idaho
The little blighters bite me, and I have quite a reaction to the bites! However, as stated above, they won't stay on a human very long. This is also true of dog and cat fleas, that is, they may bite but they won't stay for long. IMHO they are most inclined to bite when their population is increasing rapidly, which happens at this time of year as the temps start warming up. Any of the solutions mentioned above will help to get rid of them, but they will most likely eventually find their way back. Just like dogs will sooner or later become re-infested with fleas if they exist in your area. Wild birds carry mites and lice, and all manner of critters can carry fleas. It's just part of life, (albeit a part I could do without). I just sprayed the coops with permectrin (sp?), a pyrethrum product I think. I'll be picking up some powder while I'm in town tomorrow.

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#88710 - 03/24/10 09:32 PM Re: Can I Get Bird Mites from My Birds? [Re: Dirt Road]
Uno Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/26/05
Posts: 1280
Loc: Canada
I have to say, that NoPEst strip I hung in the hen house has been the best thing since sliced bread, to get rid of bugs.

Today I cleaned the hen house, dusted it top to bottom, straightened out the pictures on the wall, they get knocked crooked. Chucked out the old bedding, in with new bedding and not one crawler on me! In the past when I was using DE and rotenone based powders, stirring up that much dust would have landed crawlers on me. Pest strip - death to crawlers.

I cannot emphasis this enough: GET A NO PEST STRIP! A week in your hen house and bye bye buggies. My pest strip has been going strong for over 6 months now, the best $13 I ever spent!

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#88712 - 03/24/10 11:30 PM Re: Can I Get Bird Mites from My Birds? [Re: Uno]
CJR Online   content
Coop Master

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 8490
Loc: Montana
Going to have to take a look for them. Used to hang one in closets with woolens for moths, and one in the basement. Then they were labeled NOT for in home use, and I haven't seen them in the stores or catalogs for a long time. Canada/U.S. regs?, read the label--or maybe a different formula?
CJR


Edited by CJR (03/24/10 11:33 PM)

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#88715 - 03/25/10 08:02 AM Re: Can I Get Bird Mites from My Birds? [Re: CJR]
Dirt Road Offline
Bantam

Registered: 08/18/08
Posts: 61
Loc: Idaho
OOPS!
Took a look at the container, and Permectrin II is petroleum based, not pyrethrum as I stated above. However, it works very well, has an excellent residual effect, and is labeled for application directly onto the birds.
Pest strips are usually available at farm stores, and they are very good. They are less effective when ventilation is too great. My coops are about 35% open on one side which renders them less useful with our near constant wind/breeze. I do use them with good success when I can control the ventilation.

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