We recently saw a 7-week-old miniature pig for itching and hair loss. This little piggy had been purchased only a couple of weeks earlier, and had recently been weaned from milk to normal mini-pig chow. A “skin scrape” was performed to check for ectoparasites: we firmly pinched some skin and applied a thin layer of mineral oil; we then scraped the area with the edge of a scalpel blade, and examined the specimen under a microscope.
To nobody’s surprise, we found scabies mites (Sarcoptes scabiei). Scabies causes severe itching, red skin, and hair loss in affected animals. The piglet probably caught mites from its mother and, typical for many pediatric diseases, only started to exhibit symptoms once it was separated from the sow, weaned onto a new diet, and placed in a new home. Changes like these always put stress on a young animal’s immune system, and our practice often sees problems in young pets soon after they are adopted.
Also not a surprise – Sarcoptes had infected the pig’s owner! She had a rash on her legs where the baby pig normally sat on her lap. We treated the pig for mites and advised to owner to see her M.D. Our practice treats many different species, but we have to draw the line somewhere.