Union Calls for Cattle Scab to be Made Notifiable

The growing incidence of cattle psoroptic mange – the bovine equivalent of Sheep Scab – has prompted NFU Scotland to call for the disease to be made notifiable to prevent it getting a grip in Scottish herds.

NFUS made the request for Cattle Scab to be made notifiable at a meeting of the Scottish Government’s Animal Health and Welfare Stakeholders yesterday (Monday, 13 June).

NFU Scotland President, Nigel Miller, who made the request in person said:

“Cattle psoroptic mange is disease that we thought we had seen the back of half-a-century ago.  However, a recent cluster of cases in parts of Wales and a possible case in England suggest that the disease is once again establishing itself here.  Those cases are probably linked to imports from the Continent where the disease is still commonly found.

“That is a real worry for all cattle keepers here and justifies appropriate action being taken at Government level.  By making the disease notifiable now, we can prevent a serious welfare problem developing in our stock later.

“We need to learn the lessons from Sheep Scab – a disease that we thought we had eradicated but, since compulsory dipping was stopped, has once again become endemic in some parts.  Here in Scotland, Sheep Scab is once more a notifiable disease, disease reports are being tackled and the same positive approach should be adopted for the bovine form of the disease.

“Like Sheep Scab, the parasite responsible for bovine psoroptes can have a devastating impact on cattle, causing severe irritation, itching and bleeding in affected animals. As a result, they stop eating properly, lose body condition, and can suffer terribly.  Treatment regimes for Cattle Scab are costly and difficult, must involve the whole herd to be effective and based around veterinary medicines that require lengthy withdrawal periods. For dairy farms that could mean periods when milk from the herd may need to be withheld from sale.

“Scotland is already taking the threat from Cattle Scab very seriously. A skin sample testing service, through SAC’s labs is available and work is underway to develop a pen-side test to help screen animals for the presence of bovine psoroptes. Both will be a big help in combating this disease in the future.

“This is a difficult disease to treat because the parasites responsible can often remain silent within a herd for some months.   We will be working on raising awareness with keepers and their vets, urging them to investigate any outbreaks of mange and severe itching in their animals.   This will allow proper and effective treatment to be prescribed.  As good biosecurity practice, we would also urge all farmers buying in cattle – particularly from high risk areas on the Continent – to discuss with their vets the risks and any preventative treatment regime.”  

Notes to editors

  • SAC has advised that any cattle keepers with suspect cases of bovine psoroptic mange should notify their private veterinary surgeon who can arrange free of charge microscopic examination of skin scrapings through SAC.


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 102/11

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