Atlas of livestock parasites
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Sarcoptes scabiei var. suis



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Sarcoptes scabiei var. suis
Mange mite; itch mite

General Description:
Sarcoptes is a tiny, grayish-white mite 0.3 to 0.5 mm long, with a round body, blunt mouthparts adapted for puncturing skin, and 8 stumpy legs.

Life Cycle:

Female adult mites burrow tunnels in skin and lay eggs, beginning a cycle of incomplete metamorphosis. Larvae hatch out in 3 to 5 days and burrow side tunnels, or travel to the skin surface and make new tunnels or simple pockets in the outer layers of skin. Nymphs molt twice, and adult mites are produced about 17 days after eggs are laid. Mating may then occur, and egg laying commences 4 to 5 days later. All stages of sarcoptic mites are very susceptible to drying and can survive only for a few days off swine.


Sarcoptes usually burrows in the skin of the head, ears, shoulders, and neck. In heavy infestations, the skin damage may spread all over the body.

Geographical Distribution:
Sarcoptes is found wherever hogs are raised.

The mange mite is quite important economically, because the annoyance it causes distracts swine from feedin9, resulting in slower weight gain.

Effect on Host:
The feeding and burrowing of Sarcoptes mites causes great irritation and itching and produces lesions with exu-dates that dry to crusts. Continued skin inflammation is accompanied by proliferation of subcutaneous connective tissue. The tender, thickened skin may crack, leaving deep wounds which are susceptible to bacterial infection. Infested swine are restless and continually scratch and rub. The inside of the ears will become inflamed and scabby.

Diagnostic Information:
The mite is identified from deep skin scrapings which can be observed directly under the microscope or after digestion and concentration of the sample. It is important to differentiate from hyperkeratosis.

Spraying has been the usual treatment for mange mites. Infested sows should be treated before farrowing to prevent transmission to the young pigs. The avermectins have been shown to be highly effective against sarcoptic mange mites.


Sarcoptes: adult
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Sarcoptes: eggs in skin
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Sarcoptes: mites
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Sarcoptes: on ears
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