Egg producers are being reminded of the risk to worker welfare as the summer red mite season draws near.
Many producers are aware of the significant impact red mite has on bird productivity and welfare. But it is also important to remember the risks it poses to workers, says Katie Pitman, technical veterinary adviser at MSD Animal Health UK.
“The fact red mite could have an impact on staff is sometimes unknown, as publicity tends to focus on the impact the parasites have on birds. But treating birds will also benefit your workforce as it can prevent red mite from spreading to people.”
Red mite can crawl onto workers leading to irritation which can cause dermatitis and other skin conditions. This also means there is a greater risk of spreading the mite from shed-to-shed, to other sites, or even taking it home.
Warmer weather and increased humidity both create optimal conditions for red mite to multiply, meaning the parasite completes its lifecycle, from egg to adult, in just seven days, says Ms Pitman.
“There is an increased risk to workers during the summer months, so if you spot red mite it’s important that treatment is carried out as soon as possible to prevent the infestation from worsening.”
When it comes to selecting treatment, some options are easier and less time consuming than others. Chemicals, detergents and products containing diatomaceous earth can be unpleasant and can take a great deal of time to spray all areas of the shed.
A product like Exzolt (fluralaner) is easily administered through drinking water. It is quicker to administer and does not require people to move among the birds. so red mite are less likely to transfer onto staff and cause irritation.
The update to the SPC has been awarded based on results from a multi-site EU field study in commercial egg production farms, which demonstrated the elimination of poultry red mite from infested chickens following treatment with Exzolt.