NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — About 150 patients were treated at the Mike O-Callaghan Federal Medical Center for rashes consistent with scabies Sept. 11 and 12.
Scabies is an easily-treatable skin rash caused by the human “itch mite,” or Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis. The most common symptoms of scabies are intense itching and a pimple-like rash. This rash is usually located on the wrist, elbow, armpit, waist, belt-line, finger webbing, and/or groin.
Most of the patients were students from Lomie Gray Heard Elementary School.
According to the 99th Medical Group deputy commander Col. Kirsten Watkins, physicians are erring on the side of treatment and she believes the focused attention on diagnosis has them ahead of the outbreak.
“We are committed to the health of those affected and are making every effort to ensure access to early treatment is readily available,” said Watkins. “We want to keep this cluster of scabies contained.”
The scabies mite is primarily spread by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with another person who has scabies. Quick handshakes and hugs do not spread scabies. The scabies mite is not known to spread any other diseases to humans.
Prolonged contact between household members and indirect contact by sharing clothing, towels or bedding can also spread scabies. Clothing and bedding used by the affected person or people should be laundered in hot wash and rinse cycles and dried on the hot setting. You cannot get scabies from a pet.
People diagnosed with scabies are usually excluded from work or school until 24 hours after treatment begins. Treatment usually entails using creams and lotions to kill the mites, but itching can last up to a week later.
Scabies can spread rapidly under crowded conditions where close body and skin contact is frequent. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, childcare facilities are common sites of scabies outbreaks. Scabies is found worldwide and affects people of all races and social classes.
Family members of people diagnosed with scabies should also seek medical advice, as the whole family should be treated simultaneously to prevent re-infestation.
The 99th Medical Group Pediatric Clinic’s providers will be available for walk-ins from 12 – 4 p.m. Sept. 13, with the potential to extend beyond 4 p.m., if necessary, at the Mike O-Callaghan Federal Medical Center Pharmacy for those people currently exhibiting symptoms of scabies. Additionally, appointments can be made at the Mike O-Callaghan Federal Medical Center by calling (702)-653-2273.
“If your child does not have an itchy skin rash, then no exam or screening is needed and they may return to school,” said Dr. Jeremy Granger, lead pediatrician at the 99th Medical Group.
Granger added that there is no benefit to treating for scabies in the absence of a skin rash unless there is a household contact with another who has been diagnosed with scabies.
If you think you might have scabies or have come in contact with someone recently diagnosed with scabies, call your medical provider.