Red mite – ácaros rojos

On Monday 20th December 2011, I noticed that one of the chickens’ eyes was weeping with a bubbly fluid. I thought that perhaps she had just got something in it so bathed it with a chamomile and saline solution. However, by the next day it had got a lot worse and the eye had totally gummed up. I tried bathing it again and added a couple of drops of eye allergy drops to the liquid to calm the itching and it did seem to be slightly better – even to the point of opening.

The next day, the had shut again and looking at it more closely I could see some very small whitish/yellowish things which looked like mites near the eye. After a couple of phone calls, I found a shop with veterinary products. When I arrived, the owner wasn’t there and his wife and son had been left in charge of the shop. The phone was passed from one to the other and eventually they hit on the product for the job – a product called Arpón although the man on the other end of the phone couldn’t understand why I would want to spend more than the cost of a new chicken. The explanation “She’s a foreigner” seemed to work. 5ml of the product is diluted in 1 litre of water and this is then sprayed on all the surfaces of the chicken coop and directly on the chicken. As I didn’t want any of the others to catch them, I sprayed each chicken thoroughly including the infected eye.

Speaking to the vet the next day, she diagnosed the problem as dermanyssus gallinae (ácaros rojos or red mite) and recommended applying an eye cream called OFTALMOLOSA CUSÍ (prednisona-neomicina) twice a day. A couple of hours after the first application, the chicken was able to open its eye again and I continued to apply it for the next 4 days. It is now nine days after the first problem and the eye looks a lot better although it will remain to be seen whether she makes a full recovery.

Red mite feed on chickens at night while they rest and turn red as they become engorged on blood. During the day they hide in cracks in wood where they reproduce and lay eggs.