Using slaughter inspections to evaluate sarcoptic mange infestation of finishing swine

Vet Parasitol. 1997 Jun;70(1-3):191-200. doi: 10.1016/s0304-4017(96)01137-5.


Sarcoptic mange is one of the common swine diseases worldwide. Although mange-free populations can be established with caesarean derived stock, by herd repopulation programmes or by eliminating mange with ivermectin, mange remains prevalent in many countries. Field and experimental studies indicate that hypersensitive mange is detrimental to performance of growing pigs. Typically, producers tolerate mange infestation in their herds and control measures are often haphazard. This tolerance to mange infestation is attributable to the covert nature of the losses (reduced growth rate and feed efficiency without mortality) and to the fact that clinical signs of hypersensitive mange (pruritus) are usually viewed as normal. Lack of tools to evaluate mange severity in pigs and to demonstrate its importance has hindered the efforts of veterinarians to control the disease. Traditionally, veterinarians have used slaughter inspections to assess respiratory diseases such as enzootic pneumonia and atrophic rhinitis. Much of the value of slaughter inspections is as a tool with which veterinarians can educate and motivate their clients to improve disease control measures. The potential for evaluating hypersensitive mange by inspecting slaughtered pigs for lesions of papular dermatitis was recognised some time ago, but quantitative evaluation of the reliability of this approach has been lacking. We have conducted several studies in Australia, the USA, Canada, Europe and Latin America to evaluate associations between Sarcoptes infestation and the severity of papular dermatitis at slaughter, using a simple ordinal scale for classifying carcasses. Our initial field and experimental data in Australia indicated the specificity of localised dermatitis to be in the order of 75-80%, but that the generalised dermatitis was highly specific (> 98%) for mange. Subsequent studies in the US Midwest yielded almost identical results, and indicated that the method may also have some utility for surveillance of mange-free herds. Results from other locations invariably have shown significant associations between dermatitis lesions and mange infestation. Relative to other methods such as skin scrapings and monitoring pruritus, this method is simple and relatively objective, and should be considered for routine inclusion in slaughter inspection protocols.

MeSH terms

  • Abattoirs
  • Animals
  • Pruritus / epidemiology
  • Pruritus / veterinary
  • Scabies / economics
  • Scabies / epidemiology
  • Scabies / prevention & control
  • Scabies / veterinary*
  • Swine
  • Swine Diseases / economics
  • Swine Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Swine Diseases / prevention & control