Protect Your Organization from a Scabies Outbreak

It’s 2015, and while you may think of pirates when you hear about scabies, these mites are still around.  With an increasing number of organizations recently affected by scabies outbreaks, it is important to protect your employees and your clients.  Scabies can spread rapidly, especially in organizations such as nursing homes, extended care facilities, and hospitals.

A few quick facts:

  • Scabies can be spread through direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact or indirectly by sharing articles, such as towels, bedding, or clothing, with an infested person
  • Symptoms include intense itching, especially at night, and a pimple-like rash and may take as long as 4-6 weeks to appear
  • Treatment is typically a prescription cream or lotion

If an individual or client in your organization has been diagnosed with scabies:

  • Anyone who has had prolonged skin-to-skin contact with the infested individual should be evaluated by a physician and treated if necessary
  • Spraying or fumigating is unnecessary
  • Generally, infested individuals are safe to return to work the day after treatment has begun

Prevent “The Itch”

  • Avoid direct skin-to-skin contact with an infested person
  • Avoid skin contact with items used by an infested person (towels, clothing, bedding)
  • Household members and potentially exposed individuals should be treated at the same time as the infested person to prevent reexposure and reinfestation
  • Bedding and clothing worn or used during the 3 days before treatment should be machine washed using hot water and dried on the high heat setting (or dry cleaned).  Items that cannot be dry-cleaned or laundered can be disinfested by storing in a closed plastic bag for several days to a week (scabies mites do not survive more than 2-3 days away from human skin).

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