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Ectoparasites - Sarcoptes

Sarcoptes scabiei var equi: Mange mite (Not in New Zealand)

General Description: Sarcoptes is a tiny, greyish-white mite, up to 0.5 mm. long, with a round body, blunt mouth parts for puncturing skin, and 8 stumpy legs. Pretarsi are present.

Life Cycle: The female mite lays up to 50 eggs over a period of 3 to 4 weeks. All stages of the life cycle as described in the overview occur in skin tunnels, which may be extended through the entire skin of the host. The generation time is 2 weeks. These mites can only survive several days off the host, as they are highly susceptible to drying.

Location: Sarcoptes prefer the head and neck, where the horse coat is less dense. If allowed to spread, the entire body will become afflicted.

Geographical Distribution: Found in most countries, but uncommon in the United States. Sarcoptes scabiei var equi is not found in NZ.

Significance: Sarcoptic mange is not common in horses but can cause much damage if allowed to become established. Not reported in horses in New Zealand.

Effect on Host: Scabies; sarcoptic mange; irritation caused by mites burrowing within the skin. The feeding and burrowing of Sarcoptes mites causes great irritation and itching, producing lesions with exudates that dry to crusts. Continued skin inflammation is accompanied by proliferation of subcutaneous connective tissue. Infested horses bite and scratch. Continued burrowing of the mites causes thickened, wrinkled skin.

Diagnostic Information: The mite is identified from skin samples collected by scraping the damaged areas until the moist layers of skin are reached.

Control: The infested horse must be treated to kill sarcoptic mites. Steroids may be given to reduce inflammation. Disinfect articles in contact with infected animals, especially blankets, grooming equipment, and harnesses.

Sarcoptes - mite   Sarcoptes - female   Mange on shoulders of horse


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