Share This Page

Scabies found in nursing home

| Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, 12:27 a.m.

A Washington County nursing home is working to eradicate an outbreak of scabies discovered earlier this month.

A staff member, who developed a rash, tested positive for the parasite, according to Tim Kimmel, administrator of the Washington County Health Center and the county's director of human services.

The microscopic scabies mite burrows into the upper layer of the skin, where it lives and lays eggs, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The most common symptoms of scabies are intense itching and a pimple-like skin rash. The scabies mite usually is spread by direct and prolonged skin-to-skin contact with someone who has scabies or by sharing clothing or towels.

A resident at the center tested positive for the parasite, Kimmel said.

A dermatologist tested two residents for the parasite this week.

All of the center's 230 employees have been treated with elemite, a cream that gets rid of the mite. Employees apply the cream and bathe 12 hours later, Kimmel said.

Residents are being treated with tablets administered orally, Kimmel said. Such treatment is an alternative to using cream, he said.

The health center, in Chartiers, has 288 beds and is about 90 percent occupied, Kimmel said.

Residents include people recovering from injuries and dementia patients. Kimmel, who has been Washington County's director of human services for 10 years, said this outbreak is not the first in the facility.

“It is not unheard of in institutional settings. We are being open and proactive in trying to get rid of it,” he said.

Guillermo Cole, a spokesman for the Allegheny County Health Department said outbreaks of scabies are somewhat rare.

“These things do occur from time to time. But they are infrequent, fortunately. I don't think it even happens once a year in Allegheny County,” he said.

Workers at the center are washing and drying bedding, towels and clothing at the hottest possible settings, which kills the parasite. Items that cannot be washed are bagged for at least 72 hours because the parasite cannot live longer than that without contact with humans.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is monitoring the outbreak, said Kait Gillis, a department spokeswoman.

“When there is an outbreak, we make sure the facility is taking the proper steps,” Gillis said.

The state does not keep records of the number of scabies outbreaks, she said.

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at rwills@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.