Pretty much anybody can get scabies - children, adults, and old people. As scabies is a highly contagious skin condition. Once a person gets infected with scabies, it can spread to a nearby group or family members easily. Scabies skin disease can be treated but it would be better if you know what causes scabies and who are more susceptible to the disease.

However, it is observed people in nursing home and hospitals are more prone to get this infection.

Scabies infection in mental patients

Although scabies can be acquired by anyone, the condition is very common among hospitalized patients, especially those who suffer from mental disorders such as dementia. Scabies is very contagious and it can cause serious endemics in overcrowded hospitals, nursing homes and asylums. Due to their limited mobility and their poor self-awareness, debilitating patients in mental institutions are very exposed to acquiring scabies during outbreaks. Malpraxis, neglect and delayed medical assistance during scabies endemics in mental institutions allow the disease to spread among inpatients and medical staff.

In many cases, patients with mental impairment are diagnosed with scabies long after they develop serious complications, rendering the task of overcoming the disease even more difficult. Poor patient monitoring and medical neglect are nowadays thought to be leading factors in causing scabies outbreaks in mental institutions and nursing homes.

In the last decades, scientists have conducted various studies in order to determine the exact causes for the increased incidence of scabies in hospitalized patients with dementia and other mental disorders. Research results have revealed that the high incidence of scabies in mental institutions is caused solely by environmental factors. The conducted studies haven’t suggested any physiological relations between mentally impaired patients and the high incidence of scabies among this category of people. Scientists have concluded that people with mental disorders don’t present any increased physiological risks in developing scabies.

Scabies among healthcare workers(HCWs)

Scabies outbreaks have occurred among patients, visitors, and staff in institutions such as nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and hospitals. Scabies among people in nursing homes and extended-care facilities has become a common problem in the United States. The residents often need help with daily tasks, so there is frequent skin-to-skin contact. Scabies can spread to nursing staff. The staff can then spread scabies to other residents. This can happen rapidly.

Healthcare workers who have the most patient contact are at highest risk of getting scabies infection. The characteristic itching and rash of scabies can be absent in such persons in the early days, leading to frequent misdiagnosis and delayed or inadequate treatment and continued transmission.

Preventing scabies outbreak in hospitals

Early recognition of scabies is essential to prevent outbreaks. Once an outbreak occurs, prompt control of the index patient and rapid tracing of contacts to identify secondary cases are necessary. When prolonged exposure to a case of crusted scabies results in multiple secondary cases, institution of simultaneous mass prophylaxis is the most efficient strategy for terminating the outbreak and can be implemented without ward closure.

Common guidelines to control scabies outbreak is listed below:

  • heightened surveillance for early detection of new cases
  • proper use of infection control measures when handling patients
  • early and complete treatment and follow-up of cases
  • prophylactic treatment of staff, other patients, and household members
  • aviding skin-to-skin contact with patients for at least 8 hours after treatment