Scabies Outbreak on a Spinal Cord Injury Unit

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Abstract

This article describes an outbreak of scabies on a 30-bed acute spinal cord injury unit and the measures taken to eradicate the infestation. Because spinal cord injury patients have sensorimotor deficits, the sensation of itching often is absent, making an infestation of scabies more difficult to identify. A total of 30 patients and 38 employees were exposed and treated for scabies. Educational programs about scabies were instituted immediately for all employees. Routine daily activities and therapy schedules were severely hampered by the outbreak. Despite the efforts of staff to solve the problems associated with the outbreak, frustration and anger were sometimes displayed by many of the staff, patients, and families because of the difficulties they encountered. The outbreak was halted, however, and no further cases were reported, although several employees had to be treated twice.

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