Potentially deadly mite infestation triggers trap and treat program for the endangered species
Kit foxes in the Taft area are showing signs of a potentially deadly skin mite infection and wildlife biologists are setting traps to capture and treat the animals.
A Taft Midway Driller photo of a kit fox showing signs of the infection was brought to the attention of the California State University's Endangered Species Recovery Program.
The next day, on Feb. 1 a biologist set a trap to capture the diseased animal.
The animals will be treated for mange then released.
Traps have been set in other areas of the downtown as well.
Biologist Eric Kelly said scarcoptic mange had spread to the kit fox population near Bakersfield prior to the discovery of the diesase in Taft.
People are cautioned not to approach or try to care for a sick fox themselves.
The kit fox is a federally protected endangered species and it is illegal for the public to trap or handle kit foxes.
According to information from the Endangered Species Program, it's a new problem in this area.
"Recently an outbreak of scarcoptic mange has infected the San Joaquin kit fox in Bakersfield," a document said. "This is the first time we have seen this parasite in these foxes and we are trying to learn more about how it got here."
Scarcoptic mange is caused by a microscopic mite that burrows into the skin
Scarcoptic mange is characterized by a variety of skin problems including sever itching and hair loss and can lead to serious, even fatal health issues.
The hair loss and skin condition can lead to a compromised immune system and other diseases and the inability to regulate their temperature, causing hypothermia and weight loss to the pint the animal dies.
Scarcoptic mange is contagious to domestic dogs, but mostly through direct contact.
It is treatable with topical or oral medications.
Some heartworm medications can prevent mange infection.