louse

Toxicity of essential and non-essential oils against the chewing louse

The toxicity of six plant essential oils to the chewing louse, Bovicola (Werneckiella) ocellatus collected from donkeys, was examined in laboratory bioassays. The oils examined were: tea-tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), peppermint (Mentha piperita), eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus Labillardiere), clove bud (Eugenia caryophyllata) and camphor (Cinnamomum camphora). All except camphor oil showed high levels of toxicity, with significant dose-dependent mortality and an LC50 at concentrations of below 2% (v/v). Hundred percent mortality was achieved at concentrations of 5–10% (v/v). Two essential oil components: eugenol and (+)-terpinen-4-ol showed similar levels of toxicity. The data suggest that these botanical products may offer environmentally and toxicologically safe, alternative veterinary pediculicides for the control of ectoparasitic lice.

Volume
93
Issue
2
Start page
831
End page
835
Publication date
Country

Seasonal infestation of donkeys by lice: phenology, risk-factors and management

A longitudinal study was undertaken over a 21 month period to examine the seasonal abundance of lice infesting donkeys, the risk factors which predispose donkeys to infestation and the effectiveness of louse management. All the lice seen were Bovicola (Werneckiella) ocellatus. A strong seasonal pattern, which was correlated with mean monthly temperature, was observed with higher prevalence and intensity in the cooler, winter months (October-March). Overall infestation in these animals was over-dispersed, suggesting that some individuals are strongly predisposed to infestation. Donkey age and mean hair length were characteristics which affected louse prevalence: older and younger donkeys and donkeys with longer hair harboured the highest numbers of lice. However, the practice of coat-clipping, to reduce the infestation, resulted in a lower louse prevalence only in the summer, suggesting that clipping is not an effective form of louse control in cooler months. Higher louse burdens were associated with larger areas of visible excoriation and hair damage, suggesting that B. ocellatus does adversely impact animal welfare. However, the ability of animal carers to estimate louse presence or absence accurately on an individual donkey was not sufficiently high to allow targeted selective treatment of heavily infested animals to be employed effectively. As animals are housed in closed herds these findings suggest that clipping in the summer and treating all animals with insecticide in late autumn, prior to turn-in may be an effective louse management strategy.

Publication date
Country

Residual and ovicidal efficacy of essential oil-based formulations in vitro against the donkey chewing louse Bovicola ocellatus

Essential oils have shown good experimental potential as novel veterinary ectoparasiticides. However, if they are to be used as veterinary products, they must be available in formulations that are suitable for practical application against specific ectoparasites. Here, the efficacies of formulations containing 5% (v/v) lavender or tea tree oil, in combination with two emulsifiers [a surfactant, 5% (w/v) N-lauroylsarcosine sodium salt (SLS), and a soluble polymer, 5% (w/v) polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP)], with or without 10% coconut oil, were tested in contact bioassays against the donkey chewing louse Bovicola ocellatus (Piaget) (Phthiraptera: Trichodectidae). Residual activity was quantified in open and closed containers; ovicidal efficacy was also examined. Exposure to either of 5% (v/v) lavender or tea tree oils with SLS or PVP resulted in louse mortality of 100%, but when coconut oil was included as an excipient, significantly lower efficacy was recorded. However, the formulations became significantly less effective after 2 h in open containers and 40 h in closed containers. The results confirm that the residual activity of essential oils is relatively transitory and the addition of 10% coconut oil does not prolong the period of insecticidal activity by slowing essential oil evaporation. Too short a period of residual activity is likely to be a significant impediment to the effective practical use of essential oils. However, unlike many synthetic pediculicides, the essential oils tested here were highly ovicidal, which suggests that prolonged residual activity may not be essential to kill newly hatched nymphs after treatment.

Publication date
Country

Pyrethroid tolerance in the chewing louse bovicola (werneckiella)

Equine pediculosis is a significant health and welfare issue, particularly in elderly and chronically debilitated animals. Currently infestation is controlled predominantly using topically applied pyrethroid insecticides, allowing limited scope for the rotation of drugs and increasing the risk of selection for resistance. Here the insecticidal efficacies of two pyrethroid-based products against the louse Bovicola (Werneckiella) ocellatus collected from donkeys were examined in vitro. The products were cypermethrin (DeosectTM, Pfizer Ltd., 5% (w/v) cypermethrin, cutaneous spray) and permethrin (SwitchTM, VetPlus Ltd., 4% (w/v) permethrin, pour-on). The pyrethroid efficacy was contrasted with that of the organophosphate diazinon, since the louse populations examined were unlikely to have had prior exposure to this compound. The efficacy of diluted pure permethrin, the excipient, butyl dioxitol and the synergist piperonyl butoxide in the presence of the pyrethroids, were also considered. At the concentrations recommended for animal application, neither 4% (w/v) permethrin, nor 0.1% (w/v) cypermethrin had any significant effect on the mortality of B. ocellatus and neither induced significantly more mortality than an acetone-only control. In contrast, 0.04% diazinon caused 70% mortality within 4 h and 100% mortality after 24 h exposure. The addition of a potential pyrethroid synergist, piperonyl butoxide, in combinationwith cypermethrin and permethrin, resulted in no significant increase in mortality.

It is concluded that the population of lice tested display a high level of pyrethroid tolerance which is likely to reflect the development of resistance. Twenty-four hours after routine treatment of 10 donkeys with a pour-on permethrin product (SwitchTM, VetPlus Ltd., 4% (w/v) permethrin, pour-on) hair tufts taken from their flanks were not significantly insecticidal compared with hair from the midline application site, implying a low level of insecticide distribution. Such a distribution pattern is likely to create an insecticide concentration gradient over the body and further facilitate selection for resistance.

Publication date
Country

Essential oils in the management of the donkey louse, bovicola ocellatus

Reasons for study

Chewing lice are widespread and clinically compromising parasites of livestock and equines. Their management is complicated by growing levels of resistance to commonly applied insecticides. Hence, the development of novel approaches to their control is of major clinical interest.

Objectives

To assess the effects of incorporating the essential oils of tea tree and lavender into a grooming programme for populations of donkeys with natural infestations of Bovicola ocellatus in the UK and Ireland when louse populations were at their winter seasonal peak.

Study design:

In vivo field trial.

Methods

Suspensions of 5% (v/v) tea tree or lavender oil or an excipient only control, were groomed into the coats of winter-housed donkeys (n = 198) on 2 occasions, 2 weeks apart. Louse counts were conducted before each application and 2 weeks later.

Results

After 2 applications, the groups groomed with lavender or tea tree oil suspensions had a significant reduction in louse intensity, with a mean decline in louse abundance of 78% (95% CI 76-80%). Louse numbers in the groups groomed with excipient only either did not change or increased significantly. Donkey hair length had no effect on the decline in louse numbers.

Conclusions

These results demonstrate that the inclusion of essential oil suspensions during grooming can be used to manage louse populations successfully. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Publication date
Country

Control of the chewing louse bovicola (werneckiella) ocellatus in donkeys, using essential oils

Infestations by lice can be a significant clinical and welfare issue in the management of large animals. The limited range of commercial pediculicides available and the development of resistance have led to the need to explore alternative louse management approaches. The results of in vitro and in vivo trials undertaken to control populations of the donkey chewing louse, Bovicola ocellatus (Piaget) (Phthiraptera: Trichodectidae) using the essential oils of tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) and lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) are reported here. Results of contact and vapour bioassays showed that 5% (v/v) tea tree and lavender oils resulted in > 80% louse mortality after 2 h of exposure. On farms, separate groups of 10 donkeys sprayed with 5% (v/v) tea tree and lavender oil as part of their usual grooming regime showed significant reductions in louse numbers compared with a control group (0.2% polysorbate 80 in water). These findings indicate that tea tree and lavender essential oils can provide clinically useful levels of control of B. ocellatus when used as part of a grooming routine and suggest that with further development could form the basis of an easy to apply and valuable component of a louse management programme for donkeys

Volume
27
Issue
4
Start page
408
End page
413
Publication date
Country

Insecticide resistance in lice at The Donkey Sanctuary: strategies to mitigate its effects

Status
Applicant(s)
Collaborator(s)
Researcher(s)
Research award
Start date
End date
Country
Methodology

Prospective questionnaire and sample collection, and in vitro laboratory assay and analyses.

Aims
  1. To identify the presence of insecticide resistance in donkey lice.
  2. To identify risk factors for pediculosis.
  3. To develop a useful tool for diagnosing and estimating louse burden.
  4. Developing targeted selective treatment.
  5. Develop novel methods for controlling lice in donkeys.
Results

A strong seasonal pattern of louse infestation was observed, with the highest number of donkeys infested in winter (Oct-Mar); with more than 80% of the animals were infested in the winter months. A significant age variation in lice infestation was also observed; young and old donkeys of age less than 4 years and greater than 30 yrs, respectively, were found infested with more lice than middle aged animals. The axilla and supraorbital fossa were identified as being the sites most commonly populated by live lice in both housed and outdoor donkeys (P<0.05). In addition, the presence of lice eggs in the first 2cm of the coat is a good indicator of an active infestation. Donkeys’ hair length was positively correlated with the presence of lice (P<0.05) but not with the number of lice each donkey carried (P=0.1). Excoriation consistent with hair fibre shortening was indicative of pediculosis and the amount of this type of lesion was positively correlated with louse burdens. However, more severe dermal rub lesions, such as alopecia, showed no association. Clipping in the winter was found to have no significant effect (P=0.15) on louse abundance examined after 2 or more weeks clipping; however, in the summer months clipping had a detrimental effect on louse populations. The efficacy study revealed a high level of tolerance to permethrin ((SwitchTM, VetPlus Ltd, 4% (w/v) and cypermethrin (DeosectTM, Pfizer Ltd., 0.1% (w/v) consistent with resistance development. In vitro contact assays showed that 4% permethrin and cypermethrin resulted in less than 30% louse mortality after 24 h exposure. On the other hand, tea tree and lavender essential oils were identified as clinically and statistically significant (P<0.05) methods of louse control used at 5% concentration as a topical grooming spray.

Conclusions

The study showed high lice infestation in donkeys, season and age of the animals being the main risk factors for having high infestation. A convex quadratic relationship between donkey age and probability of carrying lice was found, with the elderly and young were at higher risk. Detection of lice can be aided by targeting animals most at risk of infestation. In addition, excoriation consistent with light coat abrasion is an indicator of louse presence. However, overreliance on donkey characteristics and appearance is likely to lead to misdiagnosis of pediculosis. For accurate detection, examination of the coat should be thorough and include the most commonly infested louse predilection sites namely the axilla and supraorbital fossa. Although more animals are found infested in winter months, a year round management protocol may be advisable, as summer clipping appears to have a detrimental effect on louse populations.

The insecticide efficacy trial showed that the population of donkey lice at the Donkey Sanctuary developed a high level of tolerance to the pyrethroid insecticides previously used for their control. Such a high level of tolerance may account for the treatment failures reported at the Sanctuary in recent years and highlighted the need for alternative louse control strategies. The preliminary study made to address this indicated that tea tree and lavender essential oils provide a clinically useful level of B. ocellatus control and with further research and refinement they could form the basis of future louse control regimes in donkeys.

Keywords

Essential oils in the management of the donkey louse, bovicola ocellatus

Status
Applicant(s)
Collaborator(s)
Researcher(s)
Research award
Start date
End date
Country
Methodology

In vivo field trial. Suspensions of 5% (v/v) tea tree or lavender oil or an excipient only control were groomed into the coats of winter-housed donkeys (n = 198) on 2 occasions, 2 weeks apart. Louse counts were conducted before each application and 2 weeks later.

Objectives

To assess the effects of incorporating the essential oils of tea tree and lavender into a grooming programme for populations of donkeys with natural infestations of Bovicola ocellatus in the UK and Ireland when louse populations were at their winter seasonal peak.

Results

After 2 applications, the groups groomed with lavender or tea tree oil suspensions had a significant reduction in louse intensity, with a mean decline in louse abundance of 78% (95% confidence interval 76–80%). Louse numbers in the groups groomed with excipient only either did not change or increased significantly. Donkey hair length had no effect on the decline in louse numbers.

Conclusions

These results demonstrate that the inclusion of essential oil suspensions during grooming can be used to manage louse populations successfully.

Keywords
Subscribe to louse