BREWER, Maine — A Brewer nursing facility is battling an outbreak of scabies, a contagious skin condition caused by microscopic insects.
Brewer Rehab and Living Center on Parkway South issued a statement on Wednesday stating that scabies recently has been identified in some residents and staff members.
“We have completed a treatment protocol for all residents and employees,” the statement read. The facility also sought advice from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, although scabies is not considered a reportable disease.
The tiny Sarcoptes scabiei mite that causes the problem burrows beneath the skin and causes an allergic-type response. Symptoms include intense itching, especially at night, as well as flat, red rashes and pimple-like irritations. Most commonly affected are areas between the fingers and other places where skin rubs together, in-cluding elbow and knee creases, the groin area and beneath the breasts of women.
The infection is spread primarily through person-to-person contact as well as through clothing and bed linens.
Like any other infection, scabies can be hard to control in an institutional setting, said Dr. Stephen Sears, acting director of the Maine CDC. All it takes is one visitor or employee carrying the mite to affect the whole facility, he said. Treatment includes medicated skin creams and shampoos as well as thorough laundering of all clothing and bed linens in hot water, he said.
Even after the mites have been killed, severe itching may go on for several weeks and care must be taken to avoid bacterial infection caused by scratching.
Scabies can affect anybody, Sears said, and is not an indication of inadequate hygiene. Brewer Rehab “acted very responsibly and took [the outbreak] seriously,” he said.