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Sustaining transmission in different host species: the emblematic case of Sarcoptes scabiei


Browne, E and Driessen, MM and Cross, PC and Escobar, LE and Foley, J and Lopez-Olvera, JR and Niedringhaus, KD and Rossi, L and Carver, SS, Sustaining transmission in different host species: the emblematic case of Sarcoptes scabiei, Bioscience, 72, (2) pp. 166-179. ISSN 0006-3568 (2021) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2021 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

DOI: doi:10.1093/biosci/biab106


Some pathogens sustain transmission in multiple different host species, but how this epidemiologically important feat is achieved remains enigmatic. Sarcoptes scabiei is among the most host generalist and successful of mammalian parasites. We synthesize pathogen and host traits that mediate sustained transmission and present cases illustrating three transmission mechanisms (direct, indirect, and combined). The pathogen traits that explain the success of S. scabiei include immune response modulation, on-host movement capacity, off-host seeking behaviors, and environmental persistence. Sociality and host density appear to be key for hosts in which direct transmission dominates, whereas in solitary hosts, the use of shared environments is important for indirect transmission. In social den-using species, combined direct and indirect transmission appears likely. Empirical research rarely considers the mechanisms enabling S. scabiei to become endemic in host species—more often focusing on outbreaks. Our review may illuminate parasites’ adaptation strategies to sustain transmission through varied mechanisms across host species.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:epidemiology, sarcoptic mange, scabies, host pathogen traits, disease dynamics, pathogen persistence, endemic transmission
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Veterinary sciences
Research Field:Veterinary parasitology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Control of pests, diseases and exotic species in terrestrial environments
UTAS Author:Browne, E (Miss Elizabeth Browne)
UTAS Author:Driessen, MM (Mr Michael Driessen)
UTAS Author:Carver, SS (Associate Professor Scott Carver)
ID Code:149672
Year Published:2021
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (LP180101251)
Web of Science® Times Cited:6
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2022-04-05
Last Modified:2022-05-06

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