2001-Mon Dec 05 19:58:48 MST 2016
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
I awoke one morning last year to a tickle on the inside of my wrist. By lunchtime, I’d reflexively rubbed it so raw that by then half my arm was covered with a coalescing mass of tiny red welts.
Turns out I’d gotten mange — again. One of any number of cute-but-mangy kittens I’d seen earlier in the week had doubtless passed along a bevy of its microscopic friends, wreaking much dermatologic havoc along the way.
Mange on my person had never presented in this particular pattern. Yes, I have plenty of experience in this arena, but this time was different. The crazy-itchy bumps had no mercy, apparently taking pity only by electing to confine themselves to my extremities. (I shudder to think of the damage they would have done if they had encroached upon my torso.)
By week’s end I’d seen two dermatologists and still hadn’t gotten much satisfaction. After two kinds of mite-killing topicals, a course of corticosteroids was eventually deemed the only option, and I suffered its wrath like the crybaby I am — with lots of hand-wringing over my waistline and a freezer full of guava ice cream to tempt me. (Prednisone makes me hungry!)
So you know, I’m by no means alone in this uncomfortable experience. Though not every vet worker ends up in tears on her dermatologist’s doorstep, this particular foray into personal parasitology was by no means my first, and it’s unlikely to be my last, either. Bugs (including insects, mites, ticks, fungi and bacteria) are that much a part of normal veterinary life.
In fact, bugs like mites are so much a daily reality for vets and vet staff that plenty of us consider ourselves immune — from the ick factor, anyway. Gone are our past prejudices (based on the stigma of childhood lice?). At work, perhaps, is the strangely compelling notion that to be bug-ridden is to be part of the animal worker in-crowd.
After all, everyone knows a little mange never killed anyone. Ear mites and lice don’t even like human flesh! Nor does ringworm typically do much more than render you romantically undesirable. (One foul year, a lesion on my cheek saw me dateless all the way from Thanksgiving straight through Valentine’s Day.)
And fleas? Bah! They’re gone as soon as they bite. They want nothing to do with humans as long as there’s plenty of dog and cat skin to be had. But ticks — now there’s a reason to take a shower after work. (Finding them fast is what keeps them from giving you nasty diseases.)
But as my most recent feline mange experience demonstrates, even the simplest, most ubiquitous bugs can still get vicious: I’ve scrutinized mangy bumps as they covered one co-worker’s entire torso (when she was pregnant, no less!). I’ve observed ringworm lesions leave artful scars on another’s chest. I’ve even witnessed a seemingly inoffensive flea bite morph into a full-blown abscess that made the term “flesh-eating bacteria” sound like a Happy Meal.
No, even if I didn’t have my own appalling experiences to remind me, I’d feel well justified in counting creepy-crawlies among my profession’s least respected perils. As if the teeth and claws weren’t enough.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
We combed through 505,270 kitten
names to determine the hottest male
and female monikers of the year.
We scoured our database of 1.1 million
dogs to find out which male and female
monikers reigned supreme this past…
Christmas trees, fatty foods and other
seasonal items may bring cheer to your
home, but they'll cause harm to your…
Dr. Sarah Wooten takes a closer look at
this curious sleeping habit and what it has
to do with canines’ ancestry.
The Kromfohrlander is said to be
descended from a mixed-breed dog
who was a mascot for American troops.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.