Sarcoptic mange is a superficial skin disease caused by a parasite called Sarcoptes scabiei.
The parasite digs tunnels into the skin, preferably in areas of the body that are sparsely covered with hair. It feeds on debris from the skin and sometimes on the blood of its host.
It is a zoonosis, which means that humans can catch the parasite directly from an animal.
While digging the tunnels, fertilized females lay up to 3 eggs per day.
After hatching, the larvae rise to the surface of the skin by digging their own tunnel.
A time period varying between 10 and 13 days is required for the eggs to become adults.
The lifespan of females is approximately three to four weeks while males die shortly after copulation.
Transmission is mainly by direct contact. The history often highlights a stay in a refuge or boarding house, contact with a stray animal or a visit to the groomer.
Since the parasite dislodged from the host remains infectious for at least 24 to 36 hours, infestation of an animal can also occur following contact with the parasite present in the environment. However, this indirect mode of transmission remains infrequent.
Among the symptoms caused by the parasite, there is intense itching accompanied by papules, alopecia (hair loss), crusts and excoriations which can be severe in severely infested dogs.
In contrast, some dogs may, despite intense pruritus, show little or no skin damage. Also, dogs can be asymptomatic carriers, meaning they show no signs of infestation.
The lesions are found particularly on the edges of the pavilions of the ears, elbows, hocks (the equivalent of our heels) and the belly.
There are different effective and safe products available to treat the condition.
The environment as well as other dogs that cohabit together must also be treated.