July 14, 2024

Following reports of an increase in scabies cases in the country, Department of Health Officer in Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire recently issued a department circular addressed to all DOH officials down to the regional offices the interim guidelines on the diagnosis and management of scabies.

The circular was issued after the agency received reports about the increasing cases of scabies. The circular does not contain data about the cases and where this occurred.

In reports gathered by the Midland Courier, scabies cases spread in various barangays in Valencia, Bukidnon in March.

In a recent press conference, DOH-Cordillera Infectious Diseases Cluster Head Jennifer Joyce Pira said scabies is transmitted through direct and prolonged skin-to-skin contact. Among adults, the most common form of transmission is through sexual contact.

Those who are at risk of infection are household contacts, partners, and any person who had direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact.

Pira said immunocompromised individuals and the elderly are at higher risk of having the more severe, crusted form of scabies.

Common settings for outbreaks are childcare facilities, nursing homes, and prisons.

Scabies can be prevented by avoiding skin-to-skin contact or sexual contact with an infected person, avoid skin-to-skin contact with the clothing or bedding of an infected person, thorough washing of bedding and clothing used by an infested individual, and thorough cleaning and vacuuming of rooms used by an infected person.

For those shopping for clothes, Pira said it is best to be precise about your size and style of clothing to avoid fitting several clothes that could have been worn by someone with scabies.

Scabies is caused by an eight-legged mite called sarcoptes scabiei.

It has two variants: the classic or the most common type characterized by intensely pruritic rashes commonly found on fingers, wrists, and the genitals; and the crusted or Norwegian scabies, which often occurs in immunocompromised individuals.

It is characterized by the presence of crusts, fissures, and scales.

Scabies is treatable through the application of topical scabicides and oral ivermectin. – Rimaliza A. Opiña