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’s also important to remember the risks it poses to workers.

“The fact that red mite could have an impact on staff is sometimes unknown, as publicity tends to focus on the impact the parasites have on birds,” explained Katie Pitman, technical veterinary adviser at MSD Animal Health UK.

“However, it should be noted that treating birds will also benefit your workforce as it can prevent red mite from spreading to people.

When workers come into contact with infested birds or environments, the 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 conditions

Warmer weather and increased humidity both create optimal conditions for the parasite to multiply, meaning the parasite completes its lifecycle, from egg to adult, in just seven days.

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 are often used as a treatment option for red mite, but these can be unpleasant for the workforce to use and it can take a great deal of time to spray all areas of the shed,” she concluded.