Effects of temperature on the survival of Sarcoptes scabiei of black bear (Ursus americanus) origin
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For two decades, the incidence and range of sarcoptic mange in black bears (Ursus americanus) in Pennsylvania has increased. The causative agent, Sarcoptes scabiei, can be directly or indirectly transmitted; therefore, data on environmental persistence is important for guiding management and public communications. The objective of this study was to determine the survival of S. scabiei at different temperatures. Full section skin samples and superficial skin scrapes were collected from bears immediately after euthanasia due to severe mange. After ~ 24 h on ice packs (shipment to lab), samples were placed in dishes at 0, 4, 18, or 30 °C and 60, 20, 12, and 25% relative humidity, respectively, and the percentage of mites alive, by life stage, was periodically determined. Humidity was recorded but not controlled. Temperature significantly affected mite survival, which was shortest at 0 °C (mostly ≤ 4 h) and longest at 4 °C (up to 13 days). No mites survived beyond 8 days at 18 °C or 6 days at 30 °C. Mites from full-thickness skin sections survived significantly longer than those from superficial skin scrapes. Adults typically survived longer than nymphs and larvae except at 30 °C where adults survived the shortest time. These data indicate that at cooler temperatures, S. scabiei can survive for days to over a week in the environment, especially if on host skin. However, these data also indicate that the environment is unlikely to be a long-term source of S. scabiei infection to bears, other wildlife, or domestic animals.
KeywordsBlack bear Environmental transmission Ursus americanus Mange Sarcoptes scabiei
The authors would like to thank the staff of the Pennsylvania Game Commission for providing skin samples for this study. They would also like to thank Chris Cleveland, Livvy Jones, Devinn Sinnott, and staff in the parasitology laboratory at the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study for the assistance in the analysis.
Funding was provided by the sponsorship of the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study by the fish and wildlife agencies of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, USA. Support from the states to SCWDS was provided in part by the Federal Aid to Wildlife Restoration Act (50 Stat. 917). Additional funding was provided by the Pennsylvania Game Commission and a grant from the National Center for Veterinary Parasitology.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted.
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