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CONTRIBUTOR(S): Vetstream Ltd, Sophie Mahendran,



Mange is the name given to skin conditions that are caused by mites.

Psoroptic mange ©Peter Jackson

Which mites are involved?

Mites may be burrowing or non-burrowing. Burrowing mites tunnel into the skin, whereas non-burrowing mites live on the skin surface and hair.

Species of mite that may affect cattle include Psoroptes, Sarcoptes, Chorioptes, Demodex, Neotrombicula, Trombicula, Psorobia and Raillietia.

What are the signs?

Signs may vary between animals and depend on the type and the number of mites present. Signs would typically include crusting of the skin, inflamed skin, itchiness, excessive licking, biting and rubbing of the skin and hair loss. Any region of the body may be affected, but the tail head is often particularly symptomatic. Animals in poor body condition or with underlying health problems are often worst affected.

Your veterinarian may take skin scrapes or tape strips to look for mites with a microscope.

How is it treated?

Mild cases of chorioptic mange may not always require treatment – your veterinarian  can advise if this is the case. More severe cases of chorioptic mange, or cases of sarcoptic or psoroptic mange etc will require treatment.

All in-contact animals must be treated, even if they do not exhibit clinical signs.

Ideally, clipping and washing to remove the crusts is needed, before treatment. Your veterinarian will advise as to the most appropriate product to use (often synthetic pyrethroids or macrocyclic lactones). It is important to follow the directions closely.

Animals should be removed from the contaminated environment once they have been treated.

Can mange be prevented?

It is hard to avoid mites completely, but sensible precautions, such as quarantining bought in stock, avoiding communal grazing and treating outbreaks promptly can help. 

Mites can survive for between 12 days to 2 months (depending on species) off the host animal, on fences, bedding, etc. Mite eggs can survive for 3-4 weeks in the environment.

Can mange affect people?

Some species of mite are zoonotic, which means that they can affect people as well as cattle.

Speak to your GP if you are concerned.

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