Note for Pet Owners:
This information is provided by
Provet for educational purposes only.
You should seek the advice of
your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise
on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for
scabiei mange mite is transmissible to humans, and so this disease is a
Zoonosis. Care needs to be taken when handling animals suspected of
having this disease and protective clothing should be worn, for example
plastic gloves, during handling. Humans known to have poor immune
function or patients being treated with immune-suppressants as well as
young children should not be exposed to infected animals.
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Sarcoptic mange (or scabies) is an important skin disease which can affect a
variety of species including humans, dogs, goats, horses and ponies,
pigs, rabbits, sheep, and less commonly cats (rare)
Causee cause of this disease is a small (200-400mm)
white arthropod mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. Several variants exist
including canis which affects dogs primarily. It is a non-seasonal
disease in dogs, but the disease occurs most frequently in late winter and early
spring in farm animals.
This mite lives permanently in the superficial layers
of the skin. It causes intense irritation and itching, although some
individuals may not show any signs at all. The female mite lays her eggs in
tunnels under the skin. They hatch in 3-8 days and then develop into larvae,
nymphs and finally adults. The whole of the lifecycle takes 17-21 days and is
completed on the host animal.
The disease is highly contagious and the mite
is transmitted most frequently by direct contact with infected animals.
However the mites are quite hardy and can survive off the host animal - in a
home environment at room temperature for 1-6 days.
Disease occurs as a
result of the irritation caused by the presence of the parasite in the
skin, or, most often, due an allergic (hypersensitivity) reaction in the host.
Sarcoptes mites can live on humans for over a week and propagation of the mite
on humans has been reported, however most infections clear spontaneously once
the infected dog is removed/treated.
There is no breed-specific predilection to develop Sarcoptic mange. Animals that
are immune-suppressed are most likely to show evidence of severe disease.
Clinical signs do not occur for 3-6 weeks after infection with the mite. The
primary signs of sarcoptic mange are similar for all species as follows :
- Intense pruritus (itchiness) with self-trauma - scratching, biting
- Grazes on the surface of the skin
- Secondary bacterial infection
- Thickening of the skin (in chronic cases)
- Location of skin lesions is widespread - including
- Cattle - the neck and sacral region
- Dogs - the abdomen, chest, ears and legs - especially
the elbows and hocks.
- Horses and ponies - the head and neck
- Pigs - the back
- Rabbits - the face and ears
- Sheep and goats - the face and ears
- Weight loss
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- General debilitation
- Papules - especially on the arms or midriff (trunk)
ComplicationsBacterial infection may occur as a secondary consequence of Sarcoptic mange.
Diagnosis is made by examination of deep skin scrapings and identifying mites,
eggs or mite feces. Numerous samples are required to be sure to obtain a
positive sample and false negative findings are frequently reported because of
the "hit-or-miss" nature of sampling. Sometimes mites or their eggs
may be found in fecal samples as well.
Histopathology of skin - best if take an undisturbed papule to section
- mites, eggs or mite feces may be found, along with infiltrations of
eosinophils, macrophages, neutrophils, and perivascular aggregates of lymphoid
Several treatments are available for the treatment of Sarcoptic mange
- The following acaricides which kill the mites:
- Benzyl benzoate
Some of these do not have product licenses for use in all species, and some
can be toxic eg ivermectin is toxic to Collies. Animals with long haircoats may
have to be clipped .
The environment should also be treated in case mites have dropped off into
bedding or floor coverings.
- The itchy pruritus can be controlled using anti-inflammatory drugs eg
- Antibiotics may be needed if secondary bacterial infection is present
- Antiseborrhoeic shampoos are also helpful to cleanse the skin
All animals in a household, stables or farm should be treated.
Good, although thorough treatment of all in-contact animals is necessary to
Updated October 2013