Midges - Donkey
This is hypersensitivity caused by flies of Culicoides spp. and a recurring seasonal problem in susceptible donkeys is common. Observations at The Donkey Sanctuary would indicate that a familial predisposition to sweet itch might exist.
Sweet itch presents as a pruritic dermatitis with lesions, usually along the dorsal surface of the donkey from neck to rump.
Treatment and control
- Control of the midges should effect a cure
- In more severe cases the use of topical antibacterial shampoos and even antibiotic and corticosteroids may be indicated
There are a number of other control measures that can be used, each with variable success.
- Avoid areas favourable for the breeding of midges, such as stagnant water, decaying vegetation and manure
- Problem fields or areas (tree cover, overgrown hedges, low lying or sheltered pastures) should be identified and avoided, and low risk areas (open windy hill tops) should be utilised
- Midges are most active at dusk and dawn so it is recommended that donkeys are stabled during this period
- Insect repellents: Deet (N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide)
- Insecticides: 4% permethrin and benzyl benzoate (do not apply to broken or damaged skin)
- Recently Boett blankets have been used to good effect at the Donkey Sanctuary for donkeys with a history of sweet itch. The blankets are made of a special lightweight and breathable fabric that prevents midges biting. It can be used with a hood covering the ears depending on the part of the donkey affected by the sweet itch
Use these links to find recent scientific publications via CAB Abstracts (log in required unless accessing from a subscribing organisation).
Midges in donkeys publications
- Trawford, A. and Getachew, M. (2008) Parasites In Svendsen, E.D., Duncan, J. and Hadrill, D. (2008) The Professional Handbook of the Donkey, 4th edition, Whittet Books, Chapter 6