Domestic pigs are infested with only one species of louse, Haematopinus suis, the hog louse. This very large sucking louse (5–6 mm) is common on domestic swine worldwide. Swine pediculosis is more common in smaller or backyard populations than in large, commercial operations.
Nymphal lice are normally found on the inside of the ears (often in the ear canal), on the skin behind the ears, in the folds of the neck, and on the medial aspects of the legs. In severe infestations, H suis may be found elsewhere on the body.
Pathogenesis and Disease Transmission of Lice in Pigs
The large louse H suis can cause severe anemia, especially in piglets, because of the amount of blood it imbibes. Extreme pruritus and subsequent self-trauma (alopecia, erythema, excoriations, and crusting) occur as hogs alleviate the irritation associated with the lice feeding.
H suis is a vector of swinepox Swinepox Swinepox is an acute, often mild, infectious disease characterized by skin eruptions that affects only pigs. It is present in the USA, particularly in the Midwest, and has been reported from... read more virus, and it has also been implicated as a vector of Eperythrozoon suis and Eperythrozoon parvum(the causative agents of swine eperythrozoonosis) and of African swine fever African Swine Fever African swine fever (ASF) is a highly infectious and severe hemorrhagic disease of pigs that produces a wide range of clinical signs and lesions that can closely resemble those of classical... read more virus in regions where these agents are endemic. Except for swinepox virus, these agents are rarely transmitted by H suis.
Treatment of Lice in Pigs
Herd lice eradication programs
Prevention of introduction to a herd
Various compounds effectively control lice on swine, including synergized pyrethrins; pyrethroids; the organophosphates phosmet, coumaphos, and tetrachlorvinphos; and the macrocyclic lactones ivermectin, doramectin, and moxidectin.
Amitraz is no longer available for use on swine in the US. Although eprinomectin is used in cattle, this compound should not be used in unapproved animal species, because severe adverse reactions, including fatalities, may result.
For severe infestations in swine, dust formulations can be used to treat bedding. Husbandry and underlying health problems should be addressed.
Lice can be eliminated from a production facility by combinations of dusts and injectable macrocyclic lactones and treatment of the environment. Elimination programs are similar to those for Sarcoptes(see Mite Infestations Mite Infestations in Animals Tightly adhered keratinous crusts along the ear margin in a case of sarcoptic mange. Sarcoptes scabiei is a common mange mite in pigs and dogs, and Notoedres cati (figure)is common... read more ), employing avermectin. All animals and bedding on a premise should be treated.
To prevent the introduction of lice into a herd, new animals should be quarantined and treated at least twice before integration into the herd.
Haematopinus suis can infest all ages of pigs and result in heavy production losses.
Preventing the introduction of lice to a facility should be the focus of control.
In the case of infestation, eradication using a combination of animal and facility treatments is possible.