Camel Mange: A Burning Issue in Tharparkar

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The disease locally called as کاڄي causes loss of hair, scab formation, thickening of skin and severe itching. Camels have largely been neglected in terms of research and care compared to cattle, sheep, and goats.

By Prof. Dr. Abdullah Arijo

Camel mange is a highly contagious skin condition caused by Sarcoptes scabiei var. cameli, clinically characterized by loss of hairs, scab formation, thickening/corrugation of skin and severe itching in most of the camels. Locally it is called کاڄي  Khaaji.

A study conducted by my research team in various areas of Tharparkar, Sindh confirms that out of 100 camels randomly examined, the team found mange in 67% of camel. Three regions of district Tharparkar were selected for the study and Nagarparkar was found highly infested (71%) as compared to Mithi and Islamkot. In terms of gender-wise mite infestation, female camels were found more susceptible (71%) as compared to male (52%).

In this study 64 adult and 30 young camels were investigated for the presence of mite infestation and found that adult camels were more infested (76.6%) as compared to young camels (44.4%). Different body parts of camels were observed for mite infestation and found that face region was most infested as compared to the neck, abdominal, under thighs and inguinal region.

During the investigation, body condition of the host was also checked and highest infestation (76%) was recorded with very poor body condition; however, the rate of mite infestation with poor, moderate and good health state was recorded as 60%, 50% and 45% respectively.

Based on these findings we recommend the Department of Livestock and Fisheries to embark upon mange control program on an emergency basis, as in Pakistan, blessed with rich livestock fauna, Tharparkar is the richest in camel population. There are about 26.98 million heads of camel in the world, of which 1.2 million are in Pakistan (FAO 2015). Camel has abundant profit-making status in the livestock sector in Tharparkar. They are mainly used as draft, milk, meat, leathers and curls as produces. Camels survive generally in the difficult barren area and rugged districts and are grazed on the uncultivated/saline area where mostly halophilic plants like Atriplex or Acacia etc. are grown naturally. People depend on camel especially in dry, semi-dry, hilly and desert areas. Camel offers milk, meat, furs, fabric, skins and shipping. In many of the areas in the country, camel is also considered as a status symbol.

Parasite “Sarcoptes scabiei var cameli” cause harmful and contagions disease in camel and is named camel mange. Skull, turtleneck, rims, internal crosswise of legs and inguinal region of animal is affected by this disease. It has been documented from different camel populated countries that Scabies are caused by mange infestation. The appearance of the syndrome in camel is caused by poor management and associating of a diseased camel with healthy ones. Such infected animals become susceptible to many other bacterial infections and even mortality is not uncommon if untreated.

Infected animals are also a source of human scabies. It has been reported that commonly mange mite infestation is located on the face followed by neck region, abdominal, the inner surface of the thighs and inguinal regions correspondingly. Mostly the camels were described by, loss of hairs, scab formation, corrugation/thickening of the skin and severe irritation known by clinically disease. Sarcoptes, a scrabbling mite, enters cavernously hooked on the skin and lead to pruritus, the growth of papules, bald areas and scab formation.

Animal to animal contact cause disease through coverlets. Sarcoptic mite disease is also zoonotic which cause false irritation on different body parts of humans. Mange is an ecto-parasitosis (A parasite that lives on or in the skin but not within the body. Fleas and lice are ectoparasites. Infestation with an ectoparasite is called an ectoparasitosis). It is the commonest problem of almost all living animals.

Ms. Badar u Nisa, M Phil scholar, collecting samples from infested camel near Mithi-Tharparkar

According to world researches, sixteen families of mite cause almost mange. Mainly the humans were the host and responsible to spread S. scabiei.

Camels have an important role in the local communities living in the desert, especially socioeconomically. They are beloved companions, a source of milk and meat, they provide transport, and are used for entertainment in activities such as racing and dancing.

We were informed that the camel herders are highly disappointed due to the harshness of the drought, and Khaaji, the local term used for mange. We were also told that the problem is increasing day by day, and this has affected the reproductive potential of the camel as well,

Some youngsters said that camels remain neglected in terms of research and care at farms compared to other domestic animals like cattle, sheep, and goats. Therefore, the exact statistics of the camel population in Sindh are missing.

Some activists from villages near Mithi pointed out that some families in past were rearing camel as main livestock species and could sell for earning Rs.200000 per camel. But the situation has changed, and herders are reluctant to rear camel.

(Prof Dr Abdullah G Arijo is Chairman, Department of Parasitology, Sindh Agriculture University Tandojam)

 

 

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