May 28, 2017

Scabies

Can you catch scabies from a dog or cat?

Pets are infested by different types of mites than those that infect humans. Animals are not a source of spread of human scabies. Scabies on dogs is called mange and is sometimes referred to as sarcoptic mange. When canine or feline mites land on human skin, they fail to thrive and produce only a mild itch that goes away on its own. This is unlike human scabies, which gets worse and worse unless the condition is treated.

In what special situations can scabies be more easily spread?

Elderly and weakened people in nursing homes and similar institutional health care settings may harbor scabies without showing significant itching or visible signs. In such cases, there can be widespread epidemics among patients and health care workers. Such cases are dramatic but, fortunately, uncommon.

What are risk factors for scabies?

Scabies can infest any human who comes in contact with the mites, including people in good health. The only known risk factor is direct skin contact with someone who is infested. Good hygiene and health practices cannot prevent transmission if there is close contact with an infested person. The contact one experiences in social or school settings is not likely to be sufficient to transmit the mites. Sexual or other close contact (such as hugging) is required to spread the condition. The condition does appear in clusters, so outbreaks may occur within a given community.

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Reviewed on 4/27/2017