Notoedres cati (Hering, 1838) Railliet, 1893

(Figures 5-29 through 5-32)

ETYMOLOGY:Noto = back and edres = seat, referring to the dorsal location of the anus, along with cati for the feline host.

SYNONYMS: Sarcoptescati, Hering, 1838; Sarcoptesscabiei var. cati (Gerlach, 1857); Sarcoptescaniculi of Gerlach, 1857

HISTORY:Notoedrescati has been known as a parasite of cats for several centuries. Early on, it was considered a variety or small form of Sarcoptes scabiei of man and the dog. Then in 1893, Railliet defined the genus as Notoedres. Fain (1965) placed the species that is found to infest rabbits, Sarcoptescaniculi, Gerlach, 1857 in synonomy with Notoedrescati. The genus Notoedres mainly parasitizes rats and bats; a species has been reported from primates. Carnivores from which specimens of Notoedres have been recovered include members of the Felidae and Nasuanasua, the Coatimundi (Fain, 1965).

GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION: Notoedric mange has been reported in cats in Europe (Bigler et al., 1984; Fabbrinni, 1994; Hartmannova and Mouka, 1990; Svalastoga et al., 1980; Tudury and Lorenzoni, 1987); the Middle East (Rak, 1972); India (Yathiraj et al., 1994); Africa (Zumpf, 1961); Japan (Ogata et al., 1980); Indonesia (Sangvaranond, 1979); Australia (Wilson-Hanson and Prescott, 1982), North America (Foley, 1991a), and South America (Larsson, 1989).

LOCATION IN HOST: The mites live in burrows in the epidermis of the cat where they create rather deep burrows that on occasion are below the stratum corneum.

IDENTIFICATION:Notoedrescati can be recognized by their small size and typical sarcoptiform pretarsi with a long, unbranched pedicel (Fig. 5-29). The most characteristic feature is the dorsal anus which differentiates this mite from Sarcoptesscabiei (Figs 5-30 & 5-31). The adult male has sucker-like feet on the first, second, and fourth pairs of legs; the female has sucker-like feet only on the first two pairs of legs. The adults measure 200 m x 240 m and are round in appearance with very short legs.

LIFE CYCLE:Notoedrescati produce deep burrows within the dermis of infested cats (Foley, 1991b). The life cycle of Notoedrescati is considered to be similar to that of Sarcoptesscabiei, but there has been no detailed description of the life cycle of Notoedrescati. Schuurmans-Stekhoven (1921) described trhe morphology of the larva and the adult female of Notoedrescati. He noted that the larva only had 6 legs and that only the first two pair of legs ended in the sucker-like appendages. He gave the length of the larva as between 87 m and 166 m with a width of around 80 m. The measurments for the nymphal stage were 168 m to 210 m in length by 130 m to 183 m in width. Meaurements for two female specimens were 234 m x 168 m and 216 m by 192 m.

Gordon et al., (1943) examined the life cycle of Notoedresnotoedres in the white rat. It is expected that th elife cycle that occurs with Notoedrescati is similar to that which they described for Notoedresnotoedres. The females of Notoedresnotoedres lays eggs in burrows in the epidermis; sometimes the female excavates a small cave and lays a small semicercal of eggs. The number of eggs per tunnel may vary from 1 1 to 25. Females lay three to four eggs each day. The eggs normally hatch 4 to 5 days after oviposition. After the larva hatches from the egg, it typically leaves the the tunnel where it was born and moves to the surface of the skin. These larvae migrate about on the skin and then prepare a molting burrow, i.e., the larvae stop their migration and dig a small burrow in the skin (This takes between 25 minutes to 4 ½ hours once they begin digging.) and crawl inside. Once inside the molting burrow, the larvae stay there for four to five days before they are ready to molt to the first nymphal stage; this molting takes an additional two days. About 5 to 7 days are spent as a larva. The nymphs leave the larval molting burrow and wander off to find another place in which they excavate a second burrow. These burrows are in the stratum corneum and are only just deep enough to cover the mite. In fact, the posterior tip of the nymph often can be seen protruding through the entrance to the burrow. After a couple days days in this new burrow, the nymph again undergoes ecdysis to become a second nymphal stage after having spent about three to five days in the first nymphal stage. After ecdysis, the second nymphal stage goes out and digs a third molting burrow where it molts to the adult stage. About 3 to 5 days are spent in this second nymphal stage. Adults can appear as early as 12 days after the larva hatches from the egg. After molting to adults, the female typically stays in the nymphal molting burrow, but males tend to leave to look for females. When males locate a female, they tunnel down to the female where copulation occurs. The life span of the related mite, Sarcoptesscabiei, is thought to be about 2 months. In the case of Notoedresnotoedres, it is the larvae and nymphs that are typically transferred between hosts.

PATHOGENESIS AND CLINICAL SIGNS: Cats infested with Notoedrescati typically present with lichenification of the skin on the ear tips, face, and distal extremities (Foley, 1991a; Foley, 1991b; Ribbeck, 1992) . The reactions can be severe and in young cats can lead to death (Ribbeck, 1992). Clinical signs include intense pruritis, alopecia, and the formation of crusts on the skin (Fig 5-32). Young and chronically infested cats can become debilitated, and cats can present with leucocytosis and relative and absolute eosinophilia (Foley, 1991a). Foley (1991a) reports that skin biopsy revealed the epidermal penetration of the skin by mites and that the skin was reactive, acanthotic, and hyerkeratotic. Cats may undergo self-mutilation. Foley (1991a) reports that out of 150 cases seen in an epizootic area in the Florida Keys, all cats presented with pruritus, self-mutilation dermatitis, and had gray crusts and scale on the skin; weight loss, fever, and alopecia was observed in half the infested cats.

TREATMENT: Foley (1991a) successfully treated over 500 infested cats with notoedric mange. The treatment typically consisted of the oral or subcutaneous administration of ivermectin (300 μg ivermectin per kilogram body weight). When necessary, cats were also treated with penicillin G benzathine (10,000 U per pound body weight) for secondary bacterial infections and with coricosteroids (dexamethasone at 0.15 mg per pound body weight) to alleviate self-mutilation and hypersensitivity reactions. Corticosteroids should be given only after treatment of the mite population has been initiated. Pyrethrin shampoos were used to cleanse the cats and soften and remove skin scales. Lime-sulfur dips (2.5%) were found to be effective when used weekly for six to 8 weeks. Other authors have also reported success with the administration of ivermectin to cats infested with Notoedrescati with doses ranging between 200 g to 1000 g ivermectin per kilogram body weight (Bigler et al., 1984; Fukase et al., 1991; Hartmannova and Mouka, 1990; Olivia and Baldi, 1988; Quintavalla et al., 1985; and Yathiraj et al., 1994); the only side affect noted in these treatements was diarrhea in one cat receiving 1,000 g ivermectin per kg body weight.

Ivermectin toxicity associated with treating notoedric mange has been reported. Tudury and Lorenzoni (1987) treated nine cases of notoedric mange in 60-day-old kittens with 400 g ivermectin per kilogram body weight administered subcutaneously. Three of the treated kittens had signs of ivermectin toxicity, i.e., motor incoordination, hyperaethesia, hyperkinesis, mydriasis, and protrusion of the nictitating membrane. These signs disappeared after 36 hours with the affected kittens being treated with a magnesioum sulphate cathartic. In all nine treated cases, mites were cleared after treatment.

English (1960) had success in treating cats with a 0.5% solution of malathion, two times, 7 or 8 days apart. It was important that this be done under veterinary supervision because atropine may have to be administered to some cats that react to the treatment.

EPIZOOTIOLOGY: Mites of the genus Notoedres are found in cats, rabbits, mice, and rats, bats, and in one primate (Galago demidovi pusillus). Fain (1965) believed that the species reported to cause notoedric mange in rabbits was indistinguishable from that causing disease in cats; thus, Fain synonimized the species from rabbits with that from cats. There has been no published work on the transfer of the mite between rabbits and cats; but it would suggest that cats may acquire their infestations from hunting rabbits. The species in mice and other rodents appear morphologically different from the species that is found on cats and rabbits. Once the organism is in a cat population, it can be highly contagious and spread rapidly between cats and between households (Foley, 1991a).

HAZARDS TO OTHER ANIMALS:Notoedrescati is likely to be tyrasmitted from infested cats to rabbits. This parasite has also been recorded from Nasuanasua, the coatimundi (Fain, 1965). Many members of the Feliudae have been found infested with this parasite: Felispardalis, the ocelot (Pence et al., 1995); Felisconcolorcoryi, the Florida panther (Maehr et al., 1995); Pantheratigrisaltaica, a captive tiger (Malecki and Balcerak, 1988); Felisrufus, the bobcat (Pence et al., 1982, Penner and Parke, 1954); Lynxlynx, the European lynx (Dobias, 1981); Unciauncia, snow leopards (Fletcher, 1978), and Acinonyx jubatus, the cheetah (Young et al., 1972). Thus, it would appear that cats may serve as potential sources of infestation for other feline hosts.

HAZARDS TO HUMANS: Foley (1991a) reports that clients owning a cat with notoedric mange developed papular and pruritic rash on their arms and foreartms that clears when washed with lime sulfer (the same treatment administered to the cat). Chakrabarti (1986) describes an unusual outbreak of notoedric mange in a group of individuals in South Calcutta, India. In this outbreak, 48 individuals lived and worked together in the same building that housed 35 cats. One of the cats was taken to the University veterinary clinic and the cat was noted to be infested with Notoedrescati. It was then decided to examine the household of the owner. It was discovered that 30 of the 35 cats were infested with Notoedrescati, and 30 of the individuals living in the building showed signs of notoedric mange, and Notoedrescati was recovered from the skin of 15 of these individuals. Most of the lesions appeared on the hands and legs, but lesions were also noted on the face, fingers, and thighs. Feline associated mange has also been reported from humans in Japan and Cszechoslovakia (Ito et al., 1968; Nesvadba, 1967). Household outbreaks of feline scabies have also been reported in Germany (Haufe et al., 1966).

CONTROL AND PREVENTION: Control would be by the attempted prevention of the introduction of an already infested cat into an environment where the mite is not present. Similarly, it is possible that cats might become infected by coming into contact with rabbits, either through hunting or through shared living quarters. Thus, attempts must be made to prevent contact with other infected animals. Once a cat is identifeid as infested, it is important that it be separated from animals that are not infested until it is free of mites. Owners need to be cautioned of the potential spread to other hosts and to themselves.


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Figure 5-29. Notoedres cati. Sarcoptiform long and unsegmeted pretarus.

Figure 5-30. Notoedres cati. Adult female ventral view.

Figure 5-31. Notoedres cati. Dorsal view of adult female showing the dorsally situated anus.

Figure 5-32. Notoedric mange.Cat with severe crusting lesions due to Notoedrescati (Photograph courtesy of Dr. Robert Foley)