Is Red Mange Contagious?
Demodectic Mange, commonly referred to as “Red Mange,” is a transmittable skin disease occurring as a result of the overpopulation of a specific parasitic mite called “‘Demodex canis.” This mite is generally known to infect domestic animals, typically dogs, but can also (more rarely) affect human beings and wild animals. When relating to humans, the disease is classified as “demodicosis.” Red Mange is the sixth most common skin disease to affect dogs, and its symptoms include itching and inflammation of the skin and extreme hair loss.
Red Mange occurs in dogs whose immune system fails to adequately combat the excess of naturally occurring “Demodex canis,” thus leading to the overpopulation of the mite. For most dogs, these mites never cause problems, existing in low numbers around the face and various other areas of the dog’s body. However, on some dogs with certain immune system implications, the mites have the ability to reproduce very quickly.
The effects of Red Mange range anywhere from mild irritation of the skin to extreme hair loss and endemic inflammation. In more severe cases, the disease leads to secondary infection and sometimes, although rarely, threatens the animal’s life. Other effects of the disease include the swelling of boils on the dog’s skin, scaling and redness of the skin. When a dog is severely affected, the loss of hair can transpire in patches (large and small) over the entirety of the dog’s body where the skin becomes crusted, infected and enlarged with lymph nodes; this is extremely painful for the dog. Although smaller patches of Red Mange often heal over time as the animal’s resistance to the mite matures, professional treatment is generally recommended.
Minor cases of Red Mange can be treated with certain medicated shampoos, whereas cases of Red Mange with secondary infection should be treated with antibiotics in conjunction with the special shampoo. Extreme cases of the disease should also use parasiticidal agents, such as Amitraz, a rinse that is commonly licensed for the treatment of canine demodicosis. These agents are to be applied one to two times per week until no mites can be distinguished by scrapings of the skin; this process can take up to a month or longer. Several countries also license ivermectins for the treatment of Red Mange; these drugs are given by mouth daily until the infection begins to heal.
Red Mange is contagious, specifically in dogs and from the mother to pup. The mite flourishes on dogs, and the spread of the disease occurs mostly from the mother to the nursing puppies typically within the first week after the puppy’s birth. The transmission of the zoonotic mites from the mother to the pup is common, but some puppies are susceptible to the overpopulation of the mites, thus leading to Demodectic (or “Red”) Mange.
It should be mentioned that certain breeds of dogs do have a higher susceptibility to the spread of Red Mange when they are younger; several of these common breeds include the Great Dane, the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Boxer, the Chihuahua, the Bulldog and the German Shepherd. Strong evidence suggests that there is a predilection for certain young dogs to inherit Red Mange from parents. Dogs suffering from Red Mange should be isolated from other dogs and should not be bred.