The first case of psoroptic mange to be confirmed in Scotland since the early 1980s has been diagnosed by vets from Scotland’s Rural College working at SAC Consulting’s St Boswells veterinary investigation centre.

Typical signs of cattle scab. Credit: AHVLA

The disease was found on a Borders farm in a calf recently imported, with its suckler cow mother, from outside Great Britain.
Psoroptic mange, more commonly known as cattle scab, is caused by mites that pierce the skin to feed and cause immense irritation. The disease has severe welfare and economic consequences as it causes severe dermatitis with scab formation along the back, shoulders and tail head, but it can also extend over the lower body, hind legs and the tail.

Intense itching and secondary infections are common, leading to bleeding and crusting. Affected animals inevitably lose weight and death can occur in extreme cases.

Clusters of cattle scab cases have previously been discovered in Wales, South West England and Yorkshire but this is the first case in Scotland. The disease is also present in mainland Europe and Ireland. It is more common in beef cattle in Europe, but dairy herds have also been infected.
Helen Carty of SAC Consulting Veterinary Services said: “Cattle scab is a severe skin disease, with serious welfare implications for cattle if not quickly identified and treated correctly. It has the potential to become established in Scotland because of the movement of animals and the difficulties of treatment. I would urge farmers to remain vigilant for any signs of cattle scab and to notify their vet of any suspect cases.”
Farmers should report any suspect cases to their vet. Laboratory diagnosis is essential to differentiate the scab mite from other external parasites that infect cattle. Skin scrapings, including scab material are needed for examination under the microscope.
In order to encourage submission of samples from suspect cases, SAC Consulting Veterinary Services is offering free testing of skin scrapings from suspected cases, thanks to funding from the Scottish Government. Vets are also encouraged to take blood samples from suspect cases. These will be forwarded to the Moredun Research Institute in Edinburgh.

All samples should be sent to your local SAC Consulting Veterinary Services disease surveillance centre.

NFU Scotland president Nigel Miller said: “We congratulate the vets that picked up the disease following import and can only hope that prompt detection and follow up may help limit the repercussions.”
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