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Cats, foxes and scabies: the epidemiological puzzle of sarcoptic mange
  1. Richard Malik, DVSc, DipVetAn, MVetClinStud, PhD, FACVSc, FASM
  1. Centre for Veterinary Education, The University of Sydney, New South Wales, 2006, Australia
  1. e-mail: richard.malik{at}

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HOW did I come to write this editorial, when I don't have much experience treating sarcoptic mange in cats and dogs? Many years ago, a colleague, Keith Mckellar Stewart, e-mailed me photos of a cat with severe crusting dermatoses. He said he had never seen anything like it. When I looked at the photos (Fig 1a), the lesions were mainly on and around the cat's head and ears and, truthfully, I had pemphigus foliaceus at the top of my list of diagnostic possibilities. Sensibly, I suggested doing some skin scrapes, which revealed enormous numbers of mites (Fig 1b).

FIG 1:

(a) The pinna and external ear canal of a cat with crusted scabies. Note the crusts and fissures on the margins of the pinna. (b) Skin scraping from the cat in (a) with crusted scabies. Note abundant adult mites and hexapod larvae. (c) Burrows of Sarcoptes scabiei mites in the stratum corneum of a skin biopsy from an affected cat

He was embarrassed to have asked my advice, when he could have made the diagnosis so easily. The mites showed up in the skin biopsy (Fig 1c), so he would have made a definitive diagnosis in any case. But what was the diagnosis? Keith and I were both convinced it was notoedric mange, as it looked like photos of a case we had …

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