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Norfolk nursing home quarantined in scabies outbreak

Norfolk nursing home quarantined in scabies outbreak

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A Norfolk nursing home is under quarantine after a few of its patients were identified as having scabies.

Gina Uhing, the health director for the Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department, said she has been monitoring the situation at the Heritage of Bel Air nursing and is satisfied with how it is being handled.

The facility is working with her department, Uhing said, taking the steps needed to prevent the spread of the contagious disease and eliminate it.

Jan Zierke, Bel Air administrator, said the Norfolk nursing home is under quarantine until Tuesday.

All residents have been treated with permethrin cream and were given showers Friday. All residents will remain in their rooms until the quarantine is over, Zierke said.

The nursing home has contacted residents’ relatives to keep them informed. The home’s rooms were being disinfected as well, she said.

During the quarantine, families may speak on the phone with their loved ones but are not allowed to visit.

Zierke said she appreciates the understanding of families and the work her staff has done. “My staff has gone far above and beyond the call of duty,” she said.

Uhing said scabies is not a disease that has to be reported to health officials, so it is unclear if it also has been detected at other locations. As of Friday she did not have any information that it had been reported elsewhere, she said.

Scabies can cause a panic among some, similar to when there is an outbreak of head lice, Uhing said. There can be a stigma attached to it, and it is highly contagious.

“It’s common when you have a lot of people living under one roof,” Uhing said. “The incubation is for six weeks, so it can be hard to backtrack. To identify a source is difficult at best — nearly impossible.”

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, scabies is an infestation of the skin by the human itch mite.

The microscopic scabies mite burrows into the upper layer of the skin, where it lives and lays eggs. The most common symptoms of scabies are intense itching and a pimplelike skin rash.

The scabies mite usually is spread by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies.

“It’s an unfortunate occurrence if you do get it, but it certainly doesn’t reflect on your hygiene or cleanliness,” Uhing said.

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