Mange is an uncomfortable skin disease that affects rabbits and other animals. Here are four things you need to know about mange.
What causes mange?
Mange is caused by sarcoptes scabiei, a parasitic mite. This mite burrows into the skin of its hosts and lays eggs. The presence of the eggs within the skin causes an immune response in the host which leads to intense itching. When the eggs hatch, the larvae climb out of the skin and into the hair follicles; they mature to adulthood within the hair follicles. These adults then lay eggs and the entire process repeats itself again.
What are the symptoms of mange?
If your rabbit has mange, you'll notice crusty beige or white areas on their skin. These crusts are typically found on your rabbit's face, including around their eyes, nose, ears, and mouth, but they can also be found on other areas like the toes. The crusts are very itchy and you will notice your rabbit trying to scratch these areas incessantly.
Untreated rabbits will continue to get worse. Constant itching leads to raw lesions on the skin, sometimes over large areas of the body. This makes infected rabbits susceptible to skin infections and other problems. To avoid putting your rabbit through this, make sure to take them to a vet right away if you notice the signs of mange.
How is it treated?
Your vet will treat your rabbit with injectable ivermectin. Ivermectin is an antiparasitic drug that will kill the mites and their eggs. Your rabbit may need multiple doses; your vet will let you know when you need to bring your pet back for their next shot if this is the case.
If your rabbit has developed infected sores due to scratching, the sores will be cleaned and dressed. Your vet will also prescribe a rabbit-safe antibiotic.
Can mange spread to humans?
There are types of mites that can cause skin problems in humans, but fortunately, they're completely different from the type that your rabbit has. You may experience some itching on your hands if you handle your sick rabbit, but the mites won't burrow into your skin or reproduce. You can protect yourself from this short-lived itchiness by wearing gloves while handling your rabbit.
However, mange is very contagious between rabbits, so if you have other rabbits, make sure to quarantine the sick one.
If your rabbit is very itchy, they may have mange and should be seen by a vet immediately.
For professional veterinary care, contact a company such as Abri Animal Hospital.