Preventive Dept. issues scabies alert

The Preventive Health Department (PHD) has received a report from health care providers that there are approximately 30 cases of scabies within the community. 

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The PHD recommends that parents, care givers and adults in general closely observe their children as well as themselves for signs of rash, pimples or mosquito bites, and to consult their general practitioner. Practicing good hygiene is also a good preventative measure.

Scabies is an infestation of the skin with a microscopic mite. Infestation is common, found worldwide, and affects people of all races and social classes.

Scabies spreads rapidly under crowded conditions where there is frequent skin-to-skin contact between people, such as in hospitals, child-care facilities, and nursing homes.

Persons at risk for severe infestation are people with a weakened immune system and the elderly. This severe infestation is called Norwegian or crusted scabies.

For a person who has never been infected with scabies, symptoms may take four to six weeks to begin. For persons who have had scabies in the past, symptoms appear within several days.

Signs and symptoms of scabies are: a pimple-like irritation, burrows or rash of the skin, especially the webbing between the fingers; the skin folds on the wrist, elbow, or knee; the penis, the breast, or shoulder blades.

There is intense itching, especially at night and over most of the body. Sores on the body are caused by scratching; these sores can sometimes become infected with bacteria.

Scabies can be treated with several lotions. Once you have the symptoms, you should visit your family physician who can prescribe the appropriate lotion for treatment.

Persons who have close and prolonged contact with a person who has scabies should also be treated. A quick handshake or hug will usually not spread infestation.

Infestation is easily spread to sexual partners and households members. Infestation may also occur by sharing clothing, towels, and bedding. Treatment should be taken at the same time in order to prevent re-infestation.

Once you receive treatment, itching may continue for two to three weeks, and this does not mean that you are still infested.

The PHD adds that pets do not spread scabies.

Persons seeking additional information should contact Preventive Health Department at telephone numbers: 542-3003 or 542-3553.