The scabies mite
Scabies is caused by the parasitic mite Sarcoptes scabiei, which is reliant on humans to complete its life cycle. These eight legged, straw coloured mites measure 0.2-0.4mm in length, but the female is slightly larger than the male. After mating, the male dies and the female seeks a host. It burrows into the human stratum corneum of the epidermis., lays two to three eggs each day, and feeds off the skin and tissue fluids produced by the excavations. The eggs hatch two days later and, as the larvae develop, they make their way to the surface of the skin, feeding on fluids secreted from the hair follicles. The life cycle is complete two weeks later, when the larvae have moulted twice. The newly moulted mites create a small burrow before mating. As the eggs hatch, the number of mites rapidly increases but a high percentage will die. Mites can survive up to a month when hosted by the human but for only three days when away from their host.
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