Sarcoptic Mange Do Not Feed To Pets Transmissable To Humans
Causative Agent
  • Caused by the mite, Sarcoptes scabiei, a skin parasite of mammals.
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Sarcoptes scabiei Sarcoptic Mange - Wolf Sarcoptic Mange - Fox
The mage mite, Sarcoptes scabiei. Extensive loss of hair may occur in severe cases of sarcoptic mange. Mange is commonly found on wild canids such as this grey wolf. Red fox with severe sarcoptic mange.
  • Found throughout the world.
  • Observed throughout the year, but most commonly observed during winter months when hair loss can be life-threatening.
Hosts, Transmission and Life Cycle
  • Infections occur in humans (called "scabies"), wild and domestic dogs and cats, bears and mustelids.
  • Sarcoptic mange is commonly found on red fox (Vulpes vulpes), wolves (Canis lupus), and coyotes (C. latrans) in North America. It has been reported to occur in all three of these species in British Columbia.
  • Mange in wild species predominantly affects younger animals.
Transmission and Life Cycle:
  • Mange is highly contagious, usually resulting from direct transfer of mites at any stage of their development.
  • Indirect transfer of mites may also occur from infected inanimate objects (mechanical transmission).
  • Populations of S. scabiei are usually highly specific as to their host species; human-adapted populations spread more rapidly among humans, dog-adapted types spread more rapidly among dogs, etc.
  • The life cycle of S. scabiei is completed within burrows in the epidermis of the host.
  • Adult mites mate in small pockets near the surface of the skin.
  • After mating, female mites burrow through the skin by chewing and feeding on live cells or fluid from damaged tissue. Eggs are laid throughout the tunnel.
  • Hatched larvae pass through a nymphal stage and continue migration through the epidermis, becoming adults within 2 weeks of hatching.
  • Mites can remain infective without a host for extended periods; an important factor in the maintenance of the disease.
Signs and Symptoms
  • Mange infestations are characterized by oily skin, crusting, hair loss, and scab formation.
  • Infections typically begin on elbows and towards the tips of the ears, and can eventually involve large areas of the body.
  • Lesions result from physical damage to the skin, irritation caused by parasite excretions, and the immune response of the host.
  • Lesions may be covered by thick fur, but hair is often lost in characteristic patterns.
  • Affected skin is itchy and self-trauma may often be evident.
  • Poor body condition and listlessness may be observed in severely infected animals; for example, mangy wild canids (e.g., coyotes) may be easily approached.
  • Severely affected carnivores may scavenge with increased frequency.
  • Severely affected carnivores may ultimately die from complications with mange infection or exposure to the elements that results from hair loss in winter.
  • Lesions usually occur at sites where contact was made with infected animals (e.g., hands and arms) and are usually short in duration. As in animals, skin becomes red, inflamed and intensely itchy.
  • Human infections from animal sources are short-lived and self-limiting.
Meat Edible?
  • There is no risk to humans since the meat from canids or other potential carnivore hosts is not normally consumed.
Human Health Concerns and Risk Reduction
  • Rubber gloves and protective clothing should be worn when handling wildlife with skin conditions.
  • Applications of pesticides (acaricides) can be used to treat infected animals and people; however, repeated applications are necessary.
Samples for Diagnosis
  • Identification of the mite from deep skin scrapings or skin biopsy of the affected area.
Similar Diseases
  • Unlike ticks, mites causing sarcoptic mange cannot be seen with the naked eye.
Further Reading
Return to Manual Home Page Disease List - Body Region Affected Disease List - Causative Agent or Risk Factor Disease Surveillance Form Glossary Contact Information
Return to Manual Home Page Return to Disease List - Body Region Affected Return to Disease List - Causative Agent or Risk Factor Disease Surveillance Form Download Glossary Contact Information