Pathological manifestations occasioned by mites of the genus
Demodexare reported from Antechinus stuartii, a marsupial mouse. Derangements from single mite invasion of a hair follicle to massive nodule formation are detailed. In heavy infestations mites are found well distributed in the skin of the body with nodules limited, however, to the head, hind legs, around the base of the tail, the cloacal regions and, in females, just anterior to the pouch area.
Mites invade the hair follicle, where increase in their numbers leads to hypertrophy of the follicular epithelium which forms marked lobules surrounded by heavily vascularized connective tissue. It is thought that destruction of the lobule cells and penetration of the blood vessels due to increased mite numbers and activity leads to leucocytic infiltration with destruction of the mites and nodule deflation. In two instances of nodule deterioration a thickened skin plaque with markedly reduced mite populations remained in place of the nodule.
Gross symptoms of demodicidosis are occasionally marked in animals maintained in the laboratory but have not been found in specimens from the field. This suggests that environmental or dietary factors may be important in the onset of gross symptoms of demodicidosis.
This investigation was supported in part by a National Science Foundation (U.S.A.) grant (G-23321) and by a Commonwealth Scientific and an Industrial Research Organization (Australia) grant for marsupial research to the Zoology Department, A.N.U.
Dr Herman Beerman, Professor and Chairman, Department of Dermatology, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, very kindly read and criticized our interpretation of the pathology. We are grateful for his help.
We would like to thank Margaret Dahlquist, Research Assistant, for her excellent technical assistance in the preparation of material for this report.