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New External Scab Like Parasite Alert

21 November 2011
EBLEX

UK - Cattle producers across the country have been warned to be on their guard this winter against a debilitating skin disease which has become increasingly widespread across England and Wales in the past two or three years.

Similar to sheep scab, psoroptic mange is typified by intense itching, severe lesions which can appear very rapidly over the back, shoulders and tail head, and has been associated with dramatic reductions in feed intake and performance, explains EBLEX.

It is caused by a mite which increases in numbers and activity over the autumn and winter, making signs far easier to spot at this time of year. The fact that it can be readily spread through infested accommodation and transport as well as between animals makes early diagnosis and treatment particularly important.

Experience from continental Europe, Ireland and the USA where it has long been recognised, suggests psoroptic mange could easily become a very common as well as highly debilitating UK disease if effective action is not taken to control it. Thought to have come into the country on imported stock, it was initially reported in Wales in 2007 and has since been diagnosed on over 20 farms across the principality, one in south west England and, in the past month, also in Yorkshire. It is known to affect all types, breeds and ages of cattle.

Unfortunately, products used to treat other types of cattle mange (primarily macrocylic lactones like the ivermectins, doramectin and moxidectin) and some synthetic pyrethroids have not always been found to be effective. Under these circumstances, treatment may need to be adapted under the prescription of a veterinary surgeon, with more frequent doses than normal for other ectoparasites. As well as to confirm the infestation, skin scrapes are recommended following treatment to check that all mites have been eliminated.

All stock that have come into contact with infested animals will need to be treated. Clipping or shampooing off the scabs prior to treatment is advisable. Accommodation should be left for at least two weeks before re-stocking.

Because of the difficulties of treatment, and the fact that failure to completely kill the mites will lead to prolonged and more serious disease problems, producers are strongly advised to keep a close eye open for problems this winter and consult their veterinary surgeons without delay wherever psoroptic mange is suspected.

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