Fayetteville hospital battles scabies outbreak

Almost everyone on staff at Piedmont Fayette Hospital in Fayetteville – about 900 employees total – have been treated as a precautionary measure against an outbreak of scabies, Channel 2 Action News reports.

Scabies is a contagious skin rash caused by a microscopic mite that burrows into the top layers of human skin, where it lays eggs that hatch. Symptoms include intense itching and a pimple-like rash.

Piedmont officials say about a dozen employees developed scabies symptoms apparently after contact with an infested patient just before Thanksgiving.

“Best we can tell, it came from a patient who came into the emergency room and got admitted to the hospital,” Dr. Leigh Hamby, chief medical officer for Piedmont Healthcare, told Channel 2.

The 900 employees who were treated were those who might have come in contact with the patient’s clothing or linen, Hamby said – “just to make sure there wasn’t an outbreak any bigger than the 10 or 12 I think we had.”

Scabies can occur amid crowded conditions where close body and skin contact is frequent, including nursing homes, child-care facilities and prisons.

It typically is treated by a prescription skin cream.

“A single application of the topical cream that you put on the skin … kills the scabies,” Hamby said.

The hospital does not expect any patients to develop symptoms.

Anyone who has had an itchy rash for several days should be looked at by a physician. For a person who has never been infested before, symptoms can take four to six weeks to appear. More information about scabies is available from the Georgia Division of Public Health.