Red mites could be a potential source of salmonella transmission between birds and flocks, according to one biosecurity expert.

“While it is well known that mites can transmit diseases such as fowl cholera, fowl typhoid and the chicken pox virus the fact they feed by sucking blood means they can also theoretically transmit salmonella through contaminated blood,” explained Kiotechagil’s Mike Rogers.

Mites, both the red mite and the northern fowl mite have long been regarded as being one of the most common and critical problems for poultry farmers.

Drop in egg productions

They move quickly over a bird’s skin and feathers and their blood sucking activity can crucially cause a drop in egg production as well as anaemia and in the case of severe infestation – death.

While red mites feed on the birds in darkness often for about 1-2 hours each night before retreating to the extremities of the poultry house, the northern fowl mite breeds continually on the bird and it is therefore a particular problem for caged birds.

Salmonella is increasingly under the spotlight as layer flocks face new rules under the requirements of the UK National Control Plan for salmonella, required under the EU Zoonoses directive.

This includes on-farm testing for salmonella and from next year, heat treatment of eggs destined for human consumption from flocks testing positive.