Risk factors for Psoroptes ovis mange on Belgian Blue farms in Northern Belgium.Vet Parasitol. 2012 Nov 23; 190(1-2):216-21.VP
The parasitic mite Psoroptes ovis causes important economic losses in Belgian Blue cattle. Because mange problems vary significantly between farms, a cross-sectional questionnaire survey and subsequent farm visits were performed to identify potential risk factors for P. ovis infections on Belgian Blue farms in Flanders, Belgium. The questionnaire was sent to 1800 beef farms to evaluate the presence and severity of psoroptic mange in the herd and to assess farm management practices, including antiparasitic treatments. Subsequently, about 10% of the farms with a completed questionnaire were visited to validate the questionnaire and to retrieve supplementary information on additional management parameters, such as barn infrastructure and climate. Associations between parasitism and putative risk factors were assessed by logistic regression. Out of 1800 contacted farms, 680 (38%) completed questionnaires were received. Data were collected from 238 barns during 66 farm visits. The questionnaire results demonstrated a high farm prevalence of mange (74%; 95% CI (70.7-77.3)) and half of the farmers declared that the problem was difficult to control. Nevertheless, in only 14% of the barns a high scratching index was recorded and in most of the sampled animals (80%) the affected body surface was less than 10%. This indicates that despite the high prevalence and the difficulty to control the infection, clinical signs were often quite moderate. Logistic regression analyses of the questionnaire and the farm visit data suggested that heavily infested farms treat more intensively against mange. On most farms mange occurred the whole year round and more problems with mange were found on farms where a higher number of animals were purchased per year. In addition, the disease was more prevalent when the animals had a lower hygiene score. This score was strongly correlated with environmental hygiene, indicating that transmission of mites from the environment to the animals should not be underestimated. Conflicting results were obtained on the effect of supplementing minerals on the occurrence of mange. In this study, temperature, light intensity and relative humidity in the barns, ventilation systems, barn infrastructure, animal stocking rate and blood mineral levels were not indicated as risk factors for mange. In conclusion, maintaining a good animal hygiene and if possible, avoiding introduction of cattle may help to control psoroptic mange in Belgian Blue cattle.