Sarcoptes is a ubiquitous parasite which resides on both the skin surface and within the epidermis.
The role of transmission to humans is debatable, since S. scabiei var hominis is genetically distinct from those on dogs in sympatric populations, suggesting zoonotic infections may be an accidental parasitism.
Species which are pathogenic to dogs include:
- Sarcoptes scabiei var canis
Females burrow tunnels in the superficial layers of the skin, where she lays eggs over a one month period. Larvae emerge from the eggs and molt through protonymph and tritonymph stages to become adults, where they re-emerge onto the skin to mate. The life cycle is approximately 2 - 4 weeks. Adults feed on serum and epidermal debris while mating and are transmitted to other dogs during this period of superficial parasitism.
As with Demodex canis, secondary infections with Malassezia spp and Staphylococcus pseudintermedius (and in severe infestations S. aureus) are common during burrowing activity. Immunosuppression and hypersensitivity to exoantigens appear to be a factor in the extent of clinical symptoms. Death due to secondary bacterial sepsis is not uncommon in refractory or neglected cases.
Transmission occurs by direct contact but also by infestation from the environment. The disease predominantly affects young dogs, of all breeds and both sexes, implicating age-related immunity.
Clinical signs are usually referable to the burrowing activity of mites, with pruritus, erythema, papules, lichenification, scales, crusts, alopecia, seborrhea and secondary dermatitis common. Lesions predominate on the lateral ear margins, but other areas of the body may be affected, including the ventral abdomen, chest, elbows and legs. Generalised sarcoptic mange often involves peripheral lymphadenopathy, weight loss and unthriftiness.
Diagnosis is based on clinical signs, microscopic evidence of parasite from skin scrapings and response to therapy.
Response to therapy is usually good in most cases, but the use of broad-spectrum antimicrobials such as amoxycillin/clavulanate or enrofloxacin should be considered in generalized sarcoptic mange cases.
- Bayer Animal Health
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