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Equine Mange Mites
 By Winniefield Park   •   11th Dec 2018   •   757 views   •   0 comments


Horses that are in poor condition, senior horses, and young horses are more susceptible to mange than healthy ones, but any horse could get these mites. Some mange mites donít care who they live on: your dog, cat, horse or any other warm-blooded critter. Others are species specific. Fortunately, according to Medical News Today, most animal mange mites donít really care for humans. We do get a type of mange though and itís called scabies. Animals living in cold climates are more likely to get mange than warmer climates.

Mange firsts appear as irritations on the horseís skin. Some may start out as Ďhot spotsí - inflamed areas where the hair stands straight up. If the mange is not treated, the horseís skin can become quite inflamed, cracked, hairless, blistered and scabbed. If the mange is in the lower limbs, the horse may stamp and rub their legs. Of course this will cause a lot of discomfort for the horse, and can rapidly drive its condition down if the mange is left untreated. And the mange can quickly spread to other horses, especially if they are in close contact, or share brushes, blankets and saddle pads.

Mange is a skin condition caused by mites. There is actually a few different types of mange, each caused by a specific type of mange that may affect certain areas of the horseís body. Some are more rare than others. Sarcoptic mange is uncommon, but if the mites that cause it it take hold, they can become quite serious. Psoroptic mange is more common, and shows up under a horseís mane, base of the tail, or any other thinly haired, Ďfoldedí area on the horseís body. Chorioptic Mange is the most common type of mange and draft horses with feathered legs are particularly susceptible as the mites hide in the long soft hairs.

Demodectic Mange affects horses and other animals. Itís not unusual in my area to see coyote, foxes and even squirrels with mangy coats. Demodectic mange is often the culprit. Trombiculidiasis is also called chiggers, and although the larvae normally snack on rodents, when the opportunity arises, theyíll happily live on horses or other mammals. Straw Itch or Forage mites also cause a type of mange on a horse's muzzle or legs where they come in contact with bedding or feed infested with the mite. This may be confused with sweet itch, which is caused by a midge.

Like many of us, mange mites like a cozy environment. Warm turn out blankets or long hair provides the warm, low light conditions many mites like. Chiggers are more likely to appear in late summer and early autumn. But, mange can occur at any time of year.

Some mites have saliva that has an enzyme that breaks down skin tissue and they use this to tunnel through the skin where they then lay their eggs. The saliva may cause an allergic reaction. Some mites, which are actually eight-legged arthropods related to ticks, consume the fluids such as lymph found in the skin. Other mange mites may consume shed skin cells. They may lay their eggs on hair follicles or in the tunnels beneath the skin they create.

Although there is some concern that mange mites are becoming resistant to the normally used drugs, the most common treatment is the drug ivermectin. All gear used on the horse should be sterilized and itís necessary to make sure the mites donít reemerge as some can take several weeks to complete their life cycle.

Like most skin problems, spread can be avoided by quarantining new horses, having brushes and gear for each horse with no sharing and washing your hands after handling horses suspected of having problems.
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