Effect of sampling strategy on the detection of fur mites within a naturally infested colony of mice (Mus musculus)

Kelly A. Metcalf Pate, Kelly A. Rice, Roberta Wrighten, Julie Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Fur mites are one of the most common ectoparasites of laboratory mice and traditionally are diagnosed through surveillance of individual colony animals. Although multiple diagnostic modalities exist, few recommendations suggest optimal testing methods, target colony populations, or sampling sites. We compared the fur pluck and sticky paper techniques for the diagnosis of Myocoptes musculinus in naturally infested immunocompetent mice and evaluated the effect of mouse age and sampling site on the efficacy of fur plucks. We found that the sticky paper technique was more likely to detect fur mites than were fur plucks. Housing mice individually increased the incidence of false-negative fur pluck tests, whereas sensitivity was equivalent for preweanling and adult mice. The ventral abdomen was the most likely single sampling location to detect evidence of any stage of Myocoptes musculinus, but fur mite eggs were overrepresented on the neck. We found that the surface temperature of the murine neck surface was warmer than was the rump and therefore may represent a unique microenvironment for fur mite egg development. Given our findings, we recommend that group-housed adult or preweanling mice should be selected for Myocoptes musculinus evaluation and that the ventral abdomen should be sampled. When possible, the postmortem sticky paper technique should be used rather than the antemortem fur pluck method.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-343
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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