Lapis ISSN 2398-2969

Sarcoptic mange

Contributor(s): Molly Varga, Glen Cousquer, Lesa Thompson


  • Cause: the burrowing mite Sarcoptes scabieivar. cuniculi.
  • Burrowing mites present a zoonotic danger and can infect cats, dogs and people.
  • Signs: scaling, scabs/crusts, alopecia.
  • Diagnosis: skin scrapes, biopsies for histopathology.
  • Treatment: ivermectin.
  • Prognosis: good.

Presenting signs

  • Scaling, lichenification, scab formation, alopecia and pruritis.
  • Hemorrhagic crusts with fissures develop in chronic cases.

Acute presentation

  • Lesions are initially seen on the face near the upper lip/nose. Later they extend to affect the full face, ear pinnae, eyelids, lower jaw and neck.
  • External genitalia may be affected.

Geographic incidence

  • The first reported infection in wild European rabbits was in 2010, but retrospective serological testing showed that it was not a new disease. Lesion prevalence in the wild population is much lower than seroprevalence.
  •  S. scabieivar cuniculiis a rare ectoparasite on rabbits in North America and Europe but is more commonly seen in other parts of the world, including Israel and Africa.
  • In Israel and the subtropics it is one of the principle causes of skin disease in rabbits.
  • Sarcoptic mange has become a major constraint of rabbit production in India.

Age predisposition

  • None reported.

Sex predisposition

  • None reported.

Breed predisposition

  • None reported.

Public health considerations

  • Sarcoptic mange is potentially zoonotic and is likely to cause a pruritic dermatosis.

Cost considerations

  • An outbreak of sarcoptic mange in commercial rabbits is likely to result in increased morbidity and mortality.
  • In addition to the costs of animal treatment, the environment, ie the rabbit cages, will also require disinfection.

Special risks, eg anesthetic

  • No specific special risks.
  • Assess for concurrent disease.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers
  • Recent references fromPubMed andVetMedResource.
  • Casais R et al (2014)Primary and secondary experimental infestation of rabbits ( Oryctolagus cuniculus) with Sarcoptes scabieifrom a wild rabbit: Factors determining resistance to reinfestation. Vet Parasitol203(1), 173-183PubMed.
  • Amer S et al(2014)Preliminary molecular characterizations of Sarcoptes scaibiei(Acari: Sarcoptidae) from farm animals in Egypt. PloS one9(4), e94705PubMed.
  • Millán J et al(2013)Experimental infection of wild-caught European rabbits ( Oryctolagus cuniculus) with Sarcoptes scabieifrom a naturally infected wild rabbit. Med Vet Entomol27(2), 232-235PubMed.
  • Nong X et al(2013)Clinical efficacy of botanical extracts from Eupatorium adenophorumagainst the Sarcoptes scabiei(Sarcoptidae: Sarcoptes) in rabbits. Vet Parasitol195(1), 157-164PubMed.
  • Zhang R et al(2013)Characterisation and analysis of thioredoxin peroxidase as a potential antigen for the serodiagnosis of sarcoptic mange in rabbits by dot-ELISA. BMC Infectious Dis13(1), 336PubMed.
  • Millán J et al(2012)Widespread exposure to Sarcoptes scabieiin wild European rabbits ( Oryctolagus cuniculus) in Spain. Vet Parasitol183(3), 323-329PubMed.
  • Farmaki R, Koutinas A F, Papazahariadou M G, Kasabalis D & Day M J (2009)Effectiveness of a selamectin spot-on formulation in rabbits with sarcoptic mange. Vet Rec164(14), 431-432PubMed.
  • Darzi M M, Mir M S, Shahardar R A & Pandit B A (2007)Clinico-pathological, histochemical and therapeutic studies on concurrent sarcoptic and notoedric acariosis in rabbits ( Oryctolagus cuniculus). Veterinarski Arhiv77(2), 167-175VetMedResource.
  • Kurtdede A, Karaer Z, Acar A, Guzel M, Cingi C C, Ural K & Ica C (2007)Use of selamectin for the treatment of psoroptic and sarcoptic mite infestation in rabbits. Vet Dermatol18(1), 18-22PubMed.
  • Voyvoda H, Ulutas B, Eren H, Karagenc T & Bayramli G (2005)Use of doramectin for treatment of sarcoptic mange in five Angora rabbits. Vet Derm16(4), 285-288PubMed.
  • Latha B R, John L, Vasanthi C & Choudhary R K (2004)Effect of Nicotiana tabacumdecoction on sarcoptic mange infestation in rabbits. Indian J An Sci74(7), 732-733VetMedResource.
  • Radi Z A (2004)Outbreak of sarcoptic mange and malasseziasis in rabbits ( Oryctolagus cuniculus). Comp Med54(4), 434-437PubMed.
  • Zeleke M & Bekele T (2001)Effect of season on the productivity of camels ( Camelus dromedarius) and the prevalence of their major parasites in Eastern Ethiopia. Trop Anim Hlth Prod33, 321-329PubMed.
  • Ravindran R & Subramanian H (2000)Effect of seasonal and climatic variations on the prevalence of mite infestations in rabbits. Indian Vet J77(11), 991-992VetMedResource.
  • Wagner R & Wendlberger U (2000)Field efficacy of moxidectin in dogs and rabbits naturally infested with Sarcoptesspp, Demodexspp and Psoroptesspp mites. Vet Parasitol93(2), 149-158PubMed.
  • Raji M A, George B D & Oledele S B (1997)Survey of mite species causing mange in rabbits in Zaria environs. Nigerian Vet J18, 97-98VetMedResource.
  • Arlian A G, Morgan M S & Arends J J (1996)Immunologic cross-reactivity among various strains of Sarcoptes scabiei. J Parasitol82(1), 66-72PubMed.
  • Arlian A G, Morgan M S, Vyszenski-Moher D L & Stemmer B L (1994) Sarcoptes scabiei: the circulating antibody response and induced immunity to scabies. Exp Parasitol78(1), 37-50PubMed.
  • Morgan M S & Arlian L G (1994)Serum antibody profiles of Sarcoptes scabieiinfested or immunized rabbits. Folia Parasitol(Praha)41(3), 223-227PubMed.
  • Nfi A N (1992)Ivomec: a treatment against rabbit mange. Rev Elév Méd Vét Pays Trop45(1), 39-41PubMed.
  • Arlian A G, Rapp C M, Vyszenski-Moher D L & Morgan M S (1990) Sarcoptes scabiei: histopathological changes associated with acquisition and expression of host immunity to scabies. Exp Parasitol78(1), 51-62PubMed.
  • Arlian A G, Stuhlman R A, Ahmed M & Vyszenski-Moher D L (1990)Histopathology in hosts parasitized by Sarcoptes scabiei. J Parasitol76(6), 889-894PubMed.
  • Arlian A G, Ahmed M, Vyszenski-Moher D L, Estes S A & Achar S (1988)Energetic relationships of Sarcoptes scabieivar. canis(Acari: Sarcoptidae) with the laboratory rabbit. J Med Entomol25(1), 57-63PubMed.
  • Mbuya-Mimbanga M & Gamperl H J (1988)Essai de traitement à livermectine de la gale sarcoptique chez les lapins. Rev Elév Méd Vét Pays Trop41(1), 55-58.
  • Timm K I (1988)Pruritus in rabbits, rodents and ferrets. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract18, 1077-1091PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Scarff D H (2003)Rabbits and Rodents.In: BSAVA Manual of Small Animal Dermatology.2nd edn. Eds: Foster A & Foil C. BSAVA, Gloucester, UK. pp 242-251.
  • Scott D W, Miller HW & Griffin C E (1995)Dermatoses of Pet Rodents, Rabbits and Ferrets.In: Muller and Kirks Small Animal Dermatology.5th edn. Eds: Scott D W, Miller W H & Griffin C E. W B Saunders, Philadelphia, USA. pp 1157-1158.