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 from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Amer S, El Wahab T A, Metwaly Ael N et al (2014) Preliminary molecular characterizations of Sarcoptes scaibiei (Acari: Sarcoptidae) from farm animals in Egypt. PloS One (4), e94705 PubMed.
  • Casais R, Dalton K P, Millán J et al (2014) Primary and secondary experimental infestation of rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) with Sarcoptes scabiei from a wild rabbit: factors determining resistance to reinfestation. Vet Parasitol 203 (1-2), 173-183 PubMed.
  • Millán J, Casais R, Colomar V et al (2013) Experimental infection of wild-caught European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) with Sarcoptes scabiei from a naturally infected wild rabbit. Med Vet Entomol 27 (2), 232-235 PubMed.
  • Nong X, Ren Y J, Wang J H et al (2013) Clinical efficacy of botanical extracts from Eupatorium adenophorum against the Sarcoptes scabiei (Sarcoptidae: Sarcoptes) in rabbits. Vet Parasitol 195 (1-2), 157-164 PubMed.
  • Zhang R, Zheng W, Wu X 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 Dis 13 (1), 336 PubMed.
  • Millán J, Casáis R, Delibes-Mateos M et al (2012) Widespread exposure to Sarcoptes scabiei in wild European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in Spain. Vet Parasitol 183 (3-4), 323-329 PubMed.
  • Farmaki R, Koutinas A F, Papazahariadou M G et al (2009) Effectiveness of a selamectin spot-on formulation in rabbits with sarcoptic mange. Vet Rec 164 (14), 431-432 PubMed.
  • Darzi M M, Mir M S, Shahardar R A et al (2007) Clinico-pathological, histochemical and therapeutic studies on concurrent sarcoptic and notoedric acariosis in rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Veterinarski Arhiv 77 (2), 167-175 VetMedResource.
  • Kurtdede A, Karaer Z, Acar A et al (2007) Use of selamectin for the treatment of psoroptic and sarcoptic mite infestation in rabbits. Vet Dermatol 18 (1), 18-22 PubMed.
  • Voyvoda H, Ulutas B, Eren H et al (2005) Use of doramectin for treatment of sarcoptic mange in five Angora rabbits. Vet Derm 16 (4), 285-288 PubMed.
  • Radi Z A (2004) Outbreak of sarcoptic mange and malasseziasis in rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Comp Med 54 (4), 434-437 PubMed.
  • Vasanthi C, Choudhary R K, Latha B R et al (2004) Effect of Nicotiana tabacum decoction on sarcoptic mange infestation in rabbits. Indian J An Sci 74 (7), 732-733 VetMedResource.
  • 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 Prod 33 (4), 321-329 PubMed.
  • Ravindran R & Subramanian H (2000) Effect of seasonal and climatic variations on the prevalence of mite infestations in rabbits. Indian Vet J 77 (11), 991-992 VetMedResource.
  • Wagner R & Wendlberger U (2000) Field efficacy of moxidectin in dogs and rabbits naturally infested with Sarcoptes spp, Demodex spp and Psoroptes spp mites. Vet Parasitol 93 (2), 149-158 PubMed.
  • Raji M A, George B D & Oladele S B (1997) Survey of mite species causing mange in rabbits in Zaria environs. Nigerian Vet J 18, 97-98 VetMedResource.
  • Arlian A G, Morgan M S & Arends J J (1996) Immunologic cross-reactivity among various strains of Sarcoptes scabiei. J Parasitol 82 (1), 66-72 PubMed.
  • Arlian A G, Morgan M S, Vyszenski-Moher D L et al (1994) Sarcoptes scabiei: the circulating antibody response and induced immunity to scabies. Exp Parasitol 78 (1), 37-50 PubMed.
  • Morgan M S & Arlian L G (1994) Serum antibody profiles of Sarcoptes scabiei infested or immunized rabbits. Folia Parasitol (Praha) 41 (3), 223-227 PubMed.
  • Nfi A N (1992) Ivomec: a treatment against rabbit mange. Rev Elev Med Vet Pays Trop 45 (1), 39-41 PubMed.
  • Arlian A G, Rapp C M, Vyszenski-Moher D L et al (1990) Sarcoptes scabiei: histopathological changes associated with acquisition and expression of host immunity to scabies. Exp Parasitol 78 (1), 51-63 PubMed.
  • Arlian A G, Bruner R H, Stuhlman R A et al (1990) Histopathology in hosts parasitized by Sarcoptes scabiei. J Parasitol 76 (6), 889-894 PubMed.
  • Arlian A G, Ahmed M, Vyszenski-Moher D L et al (1988) Energetic relationships of Sarcoptes scabiei var. canis (Acari: Sarcoptidae) with the laboratory rabbit. J Med Entomol 25 (1), 57-63 PubMed.
  • Mbuya-Mimbanga M & Gamperl H J (1988) [Trial treatment of sarcoptic mange in rabbits with ivermectin.] Rev Elev Med Vet Pays Trop 41 (1), 55-58 PubMed.
  • Timm K I (1988) Pruritus in rabbits, rodents and ferrets. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 18 (5), 1077-1091 PubMed.

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.