Elephant ear mites, not previously described in North America, were eradicated in two African elephants (Loxodonta africana) after six otic instillations of ivermectin at 2-wk intervals. The microscopic examination of a clear, mucoid discharge collected from the external ear canals of two wild-born African elephants housed in a New York State zoo for 25 yr revealed live mites (Loxoaneotus bassoni). The cytologic examination demonstrated no evidence of inflammation or infection. Both elephants were asymptomatic with normal hemograms and serum chemistry panels. A diagnosis of otoacariasis was made. Each elephant was treated six times with 5 ml of 1% ivermectin syrup instilled in each ear canal once every 2 wk. Microscopic examinations of clear mucus collected from each elephant's ear canals 9 days after the first instillation of ivermectin were negative for any life stages of ear mites. Microscopic examinations of mucus collected from both elephants' ear canals at 6, 11, and 16 wk, as well as annually post-treatment for 7 yr, confirmed eradication of the ear mites. The L. bassoni ear mite was first identified in the external ear canals of wild, asymptomatic, lesion-free, African elephants culled in Kruger National Park in South Africa. However, a new species in the same genus of mites (Loxoanoetus lenae) was identified at the necropsy of an 86-yr-old Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) living in a circus in Australia. The autopsy revealed a marked, ballooning distension of bone around the left external acoustic meatus, suggestive of mite-induced otitis externa, as seen in cattle infested with ear mites (Raillieta auris). Elephant health care providers should identify the prevalence of, and consider treatment of, elephants in their care infested with ear mites, given the possible risk for adverse health effects.
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