ISSN 2398-2977      

Sarcoptes scabiei


Synonym(s): Sarcoptes scabiei var. equi S. scabiei




  • Phylum: Arthropoda.
  • Class: Insecta.
  • Genus:Sarcoptes.
  • Species:scabiei.

Active Forms

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to obtain ten tokens to view any ten Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds or videos, or Login

Resting Forms

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to obtain ten tokens to view any ten Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds or videos, or Login

Clinical Effects



  • Epidermis of the horse and will survive a few days to 2 weeks on man.
  • Female in burrow in epidermis as far as spinous cell layer.
  • Male on surface of skin and enters burrows.
  • Eggs in burrows.
  • Larvae/nymphs in pockets off burrow, or larvae tunnel to surface and enter at new skin fold or hair follicle to form pockets.


  • Egg.
  • Larvae.
  • Nymphs (3).
  • Adult male and female.


  • Incubation: from a few hours to several weeks depending on severity of exposure and prior sensitization.
  • Transmission by direct contact when probably larvae or newly fertilized females are transferred.
  • Very contagious with rapid transmission between in-contact horses.
  • Mites can survive up to 3 weeks in infested stables.
  • Little evidence of transfer via the environment, even those that are heavily infected.

Pathological effects

  • Antigens are assumed to be mite bodies, feces and hatching and moulting fluids.
  • Immune hypersensitivity reactions, both immediate type I and delayed type IV, seem to be involved.
  • Infiltrating cells are primarily mononuclear cells (T lymphocytes, macrophages and B lymphocytes).
  • IgE and mast cells and eosinophils may be found in the vicinity of the mites, burrows and papules.
  • Disease is due to the immunopathologic response of the horse   Sarcoptic mange  .


  • Following infection, female mites begin to burrow into the skin, produce eggs and mite numbers build up.
  • Initially there is no immune reaction to the parasites, the period of sensitization, for 3-5 weeks.
  • Mite numbers continue to increase, but now the animal is sensitized and the interaction between the hypersensitivity reaction and antigen produces the clinical signs and pathology.
  • Mite numbers may now decrease, removed physically by scratching, and developing stages are probably killed or inhibited by a protective immune response.
  • Some animals may clear the infection but, in others, large or small numbers of mites will persist producing chronic antigen exposure and chronic disease.
  • Sarcoptic mange   Sarcoptic mange  .
  • Lesions begin on the head, neck and ears. Can then spread over entire body.
  • Itchy, non-follicular papules and vesicles may be seen initially.
  • Rubbing and biting lead to excoriation. Focal or generalized hyperkeratosis can develop with crusting of the skin, alopecia, and thickening of the skin (lichenification).
  • Secondary bacterial infections can occur.


  • Changes are variable   Sarcoptic scabiei: mange 01 - histopathology    Sarcoptic scabiei: mange 02 - histopathology    Sarcoptic scabiei: mange 03 - histopathology  .
  • In outer layers, simply the burrow, mites and feces.
  • Cytolysis in living epidermis and dermo-epidermis junction with increasing parakeratosis around the necrotic burrow.
  • Perivascular and dermal infiltration of mononuclear cells, eosinophils, etc.
  • Some vasculitis and spongiotic lesions beneath the burrows.

Other Host Effects

  • Some skin is eaten.
  • Female mite begins to burrow in skin crease and enters by chewing with its chelicere and moving its mouthparts from side-to-side. A flap forms and is lifted and the burrow is enlarged in this way with the claws on the legs. Female burrows down as far as spinous cell layer; 0.5-5 mm a day.
  • Growth of epidermis lifts the burrows, eggs, etc, and the keratinized epidermis of the earlier part of the burrow is rubbed off.


Control via animal

  • Topical treatment - repeated washings may be needed.

Control via chemotherapies

  • Topical treatment with chlorinated hydrocarbons or organophosphates   Therapeutics: parasiticides  also lime sulfur 1 week for 4-5 weeks.
  • Oral ivermectin   Ivermectin   at normal dose rates, weekly for 4-8 doses.

The injectable form should not be used in horses as it causes tremendous reactions and secondary clostridial infections.

Control via environment

  • Isolate all infected horses and fumigate premises.


This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to obtain ten tokens to view any ten Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds or videos, or Login

Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • De Pennington N & Colles K M (2011) Sarcoptes scabiei infestation of a donkey in the UK. Equine Vet Educ 23 (1), 19-23.

Related Images

Want more related items, why not
contact us

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

We have an ever growing content library on Vetlexicon so if you ever find we haven't covered something that you need please fill in the form below and let us know!


To show you are not a Bot please can you enter the number showing adjacent to this field

 Security code