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The poultry red mite (PRM), Dermanyssus gallinae, is one of the most detrimental ectoparasite on poultry farms worldwide. The blood fed on birds provides the mites with nutrition and energy for their activities, development and reproduction. In the evaluation of the efficacy of novel drugs or vaccines against PRMs, their effects on blood digestion are generally used as a key parameter. The blood digestion of haematophagous arthropods (including D. gallinae) is usually assessed by weighing; however, this method shows some limitations. The main objective of the present study was to develop a scoring method that can quickly and visually evaluate the blood digestion status of PRMs. A 0–4 point scoring criterion was established to describe the blood digestion status of D. gallinae based on the changes in appearance in the intestinal tract of PRMs during the blood digestion process. There was a good consistency between the results obtained by the blood digestion scoring and the weighing, indicating the reliability of this new method. The results obtained from volunteers were consistent with the results from researchers with low coefficient of variation, indicating that the scoring method has good practicability. The applicability of the scoring method was confirmed in an efficacy study, where it was found that doramectin could significantly inhibit the blood digestion of PRMs, lowering the blood digestion score.
The poultry red mite, Dermanyssus gallinae, is currently the most common ectoparasite affecting egg-laying hens. Since continuous culture of D. gallinae on birds is a biologically and economically costly endeavour, storage techniques for mites are urgently needed. Effects of temperature on adult and nymph survival were first studied to optimize storage conditions. Then, fecundity of D. gallinae was studied after mites were stored at optimal storage conditions. Results showed the survival rates of protonymphs (42.11%), deutonymphs (8.19%) and females (19.78%) at 5°C after 84 days were higher than those at 0, 25 and 30°C. Thereafter the fecundity and the capability of re-establishing colonies of D. gallinae were evaluated after they were stored for 40 and 80 days at 5°C. After storage, the mean number of eggs showed no statistical difference between treated (5°C for 40 or 80 days) and control groups (25°C for 7 days), while the hatching rates of eggs were in all cases above 97%. The dynamic changes of mite populations and egg numbers showed similar trends to the control group after the stored adult or nymph mites were fed on chicks. Dermanyssus gallinae can be successfully stored at 5°C for 80 days with no interference with the fecundity of mites, and the stored mites could re-establish colonies successfully. Adults and nymphs were two main stages with capability for low temperature storage. These results suggest that low temperature storage is a viable option for colony maintenance of D. gallinae under laboratory conditions.
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