Psoroptic mange

Psoroptic mange is a debilitating skin disease similar to sheep scab.

The disease is caused by the psoroptes mite which is in the same family as the sheep scab mite. It is prevalent in Europe, particularly Belgium, and it is likely that the disease has entered the UK through the importation of infected cattle. The disease had not been reported in the UK since the early 1980s but new cases were seen over the winter of 2008-2009 in beef cattle in south west Wales. Since then further outbreaks have been reported and an increased number over future winters is predicted.

Key Points about Psoroptic Mange
Inspect stock regularly
Look for signs of skin disease on shoulders, withers and tail base
Call vet to examine and take samples at first signs
Treat according to veterinary instructions
Ensure follow up monitoring and sampling
Stock Movement Considerations
Do not sell affected stock (except directly to slaughter)
Be careful about buying in cattle, particularly in summer
Always consider the risk of importing disease when importing animals

How is the disease spread and transmitted?

The disease is spread via markets and contact with other infected cattle or vehicles used to transport infected cattle. It should be taken into consideration when purchasing cattle from other sources.

All breeds of cattle are affected but Belgian Blues seem more susceptible.

What are the clinical signs of the disease?

  • Intense itching
  • Crusting lesions over the tail head, neck and shoulder regions
  • Weight loss
  • Reduced production

The disease may present few symptoms (sub clinical) over the summer with more severe symptoms in the autumn and winter; it also has welfare implications.

Treatment and control of the disease

There are no licensed products to treat the disease; it would appear not to respond to Ivermectins and in some cases is resistant to synthetic pyrethoids. Treatment may need to be off label with more frequent doses than normal. Rapid diagnosis and advice from a veterinary surgeon is recommended and skin scrapings may be necessary.