Treatment of sheep prior to movement: Its contribution to an effective scab (psoroptic mange) management strategy

Katie L Lihou*, Richard Wall, Emily J Nixon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Background: Ovine psoroptic mange (sheep scab) is an important disease of sheep worldwide caused by the parasitic mite, Psoroptes ovis. It has a negative impact on animal welfare and leads to significant economic losses for the sheep industry. Effective and targeted management is required to limit its transmission.
Methods: A stochastic metapopulation model of sheep scab transmission is used to investigate the contribution of the treatment of sheep prior to movements to sales, gatherings (predominantly markets) and away grazing, to the reduction of prevalence of farms with scab in Great Britain.
Results: Treatment prior to movement to gatherings resulted in an 86% reduction in the overall prevalence of farms with scab and was more effective at reducing the overall prevalence of farms with scab than treatment before other categories of movements. The relative risk of farms having scab infection was inversely related to the percentage of farms which treated, but this relationship was not linear, with the biggest declines in the prevalence of farms with scab being achieved by small percentages of farms treating; a 50% reduction in the farm prevalence was achieved with only 15% of farms treating prior to gathering movements.
Conclusions: The results suggest that pre-movement treatment of sheep could make an important contribution to national scab control and, in practice, the approach could be more highly targeted if used in conjunction with known geographic and management risk factors for scab.
Original languageEnglish
Article number436
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2023


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