Scabies in animals and humans: history, evolutionary perspectives, and modern clinical management

Russell Currier, Shelley Faye Walton, Bart Currie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Scabies, a mite infestation frequently sexually transmitted, dates back to antiquity but remains a challenging parasite for study in clinical practice and community settings. Its history is one of centuries of slow progress to recognize the mite and to finally establish its nexus to the clinical syndrome of pruritis with several protean manifestations and different epidemiological patterns. Contemporary methods of management are briefly reviewed, with the future promise of improved evolutionary knowledge associated with the advent of molecular and genetic technology. Current information indicates that humans and earlier protohumans were most likely the source of animal scabies, first of dogs, and later of other species with subsequent spread to wildlife. Morphologically identical variants of Sarcoptes scabiei are nonetheless host specific, as determined by recent DNA studies, and invite future investigations into the dynamics of this troublesome sexually transmissible agent, with the goal of improved recognition and control.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E50-E60
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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