A new health issue of wild sheep has been recognized in the Similkameen Valley (Southern British Columbia). This condition is known as Psoroptic Mange, Psoroptic scabies or Psoroptes infestation.
Little is known about the disease in BC, since it was only recently recognized. Researchers hope to learn more in the next few months and years.
"Mange" is a general term for skin disease caused by mites called Psoroptes. These mites live in the ears and on the bodies of many animals. The mites can cause a severe disease where the host animals develop heavy crusts in and around their ears and other locations over their bodies, lose hair and body condition, and may die. Because of the intense pain and irritation caused by this disease, it is considered an animal welfare issue.
Despite occurring worldwide, Psoroptes mites are considered uncommon in domsetic sheep and cattle as they are easily controlled with injectable wormers. Because it is so easily controlled, Psoroptic mange was eradicated from Canadian domestic sheep in 1924. While it is still present, to varying degrees, in some US bighorn populations, it has never before been reported in Canada.
Researchers appreciate the Ollala and area outdoorsmen for reporting the ram's condition and assisting in sampling. Residents of the south Okanagan and Similkameen are urged to report any sightings of abnormalities in wildlife and the location of the sighting to the Ministry Wildlife Vetrinarian or Regional Wildlife Biologists.
For more information, please read the Wildlife Health Fact Sheet .
* Live ram photo taken by Pat Brunton; mange scab photo taken by Brian Harris. All photos used with permission.