MANITOULIN—This winter has been a bad winter for mange, as noted by Island trappers and observed by Tehkummah Talk columnist Pat Hall in a recent column.
“There are many types of mange, but the type we have been seeing on Manitoulin is sarcoptic mange which is found on coyotes, foxes and even domestic dogs,” said Kagawong trapper Ian Anderson. “Sarcoptic mange was extremely rare here until the mid 80s. Over the years the intensity has fluctuated but this season has been particularly bad.”
Sarcoptic mange is a highly contagious skin disease found in dogs and other wild animals and is caused by the sarcoptes scabiei mite which burrows through the skin to cause itching and irritation that leads to scratching and hair loss.
Mr. Anderson said that, through talking with other Island trappers and from his own experience, roughly 50 percent of the coyotes being trapped have sarcoptic mange.
“It normally starts at the tail and moves up or we see it a lot over their front shoulders,” he said. “In past years, we have seen it in red foxes as well, but not this year.”
Mange destroys the animal’s pelt, with even 10 percent of hair loss leaving the fur of no value in raw fur (for sale by trappers).
“In the extreme cold, these coyotes will die from hypothermia,” he said. “I have found several in recent years which appeared to have frozen to death with virtually no hair.”
The Expositor reached out to Island Hospital Veterinarian Janice Mitchell to learn more about mange and what it could mean for Manitoulin pets.
“In (veterinary) school, we learned if dogs had itchy ears and elbows it could be mange,” said Dr. Mitchell. “We have seen several cases in the past but no major cases this year. It is easily treated with a topical product, Revolution. To truly diagnose it you need to do a deep skin scrape, but as it is easily treated and if we suspect mange infection, we usually treat it using Revolution.”