On Thursday, Dec. 12, the Monticello Central School District received notice of a confirmed case of scabies in the district.
Scabies is an infestation of the skin by a human itch mite. These mites burrow under the person’s skin where it lives and lays its eggs. The mite is transferred by prolonged skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), quick contact with an infected person, such as a handshake or hug will generally not spread the infection; the contact must be prolonged. Sharing articles of clothing with an infected person such as clothing, towels or bedding may also spread the infestation.
Symptoms of scabies include a rash and intense itching. While it is curable, there is no over the counter medication. A physician must diagnose scabies, and then prescribe medication in order to heal the infestation. Multiple rounds of treatment may be necessary. All persons in the home of a person diagnosed with scabies must be treated to eradicate the infestation.
For more information about scabies, please visit the CDC’s website.
If you suspect you may have scabies, please contact your family physician. If you have any questions, please feel free to call Sullivan County Public Health Services at (845) 292-5910, or the nurse at the school your child attends.
What is scabies?
Scabies is an infestation of the skin by the human itch mite (Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis). The microscopic scabies mite burrows into the upper layer of the skin where it lives and lays its eggs. The most common symptoms of scabies are intense itching and a pimple-like skin rash. The scabies mite usually is spread by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies.
Scabies is found worldwide and affects people of all races and social classes. Scabies can spread rapidly under crowded conditions where close body and skin contact is frequent. Institutions such as nursing homes, extended-care facilities, and prisons are often sites of scabies outbreaks. Child care facilities also are a common site of scabies infestations.
How soon after infestation do symptoms of scabies begin?
If a person has never had scabies before, symptoms may take as long as 4-6 weeks to begin. It is important to remember that an infested person can spread scabies during this time, even if he/she does not have symptoms yet.
In a person who has had scabies before, symptoms usually appear much sooner (1-4 days) after exposure.
What are the signs and symptoms of scabies infestation?
The most common signs and symptoms of scabies are intense itching (pruritus), especially at night, and a pimple-like (papular) itchy rash. The itching and rash each may affect much of the body or be limited to common sites such as the wrist, elbow, armpit, webbing between the fingers, nipple, penis, waist, belt-line, and buttocks. The rash also can include tiny blisters (vesicles) and scales. Scratching the rash can cause skin sores; sometimes these sores become infected by bacteria.
Tiny burrows sometimes are seen on the skin; these are caused by the female scabies mite tunneling just beneath the surface of the skin. These burrows appear as tiny raised and crooked (serpiginous) grayish-white or skin-colored lines on the skin surface. Because mites are often few in number (only 10-15 mites per person), these burrows may be difficult to find. They are found most often in the webbing between the fingers, in the skin folds on the wrist, elbow, or knee, and on the penis, breast, or shoulder blades.
The head, face, neck, palms, and soles often are involved in infants and very young children, but usually not adults and older children.
Persons with crusted scabies may not show the usual signs and symptoms of scabies such as the characteristic rash or itching (pruritus).
How did I get scabies?
Scabies usually is spread by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies. Contact generally must be prolonged; a quick handshake or hug usually will not spread scabies. Scabies is spread easily to sexual partners and household members. Scabies in adults frequently is sexually acquired. Scabies sometimes is spread indirectly by sharing articles such as clothing, towels, or bedding used by an infested person; however, such indirect spread can occur much more easily when the infested person has crusted scabies.