Scabies probe suspends visits to home

PHOTO PROVIDEDLewis County Residential Healthcare Facility

LOWVILLE — Visits to the Lewis County nursing home have been temporarily suspended while a scabies outbreak is being controlled and eradicated.

According to Lewis County General Hospital Chief Executive Officer Gerald Cayer, the Residential Healthcare Facility is not currently allowing visitors.

“A conscientious staff member noticed the signs of scabies on the individual and ordered a scrape test for diagnosis. That test came back negative, but our staff stayed with it as a number of negatives are not unusual in these cases,” Mr. Cayer said.

The symptoms remained and two scratch tests later, there was a positive result.

Four residents and three staff members have been infected, Mr. Cayer said, and staff were able to determine that the “ground zero” patient was a person who had transferred to the facility directly from a hospital recently.

“The first thing we had to do was to restrict access,” Mr. Cayer said, “So letters were sent out on June 7 to family members.”

Scabies, caused by a mite that burrows under the skin and lays eggs, have an incubation period of four to six weeks, according to the Center For Disease Control’s website

A treatment plan was made in consultation with the Department of Health in which the entire facility will be treated rather than just the individuals and floors with the outbreaks.

Additionally, the staff are being asked to take the medication as a precaution.

Treatment for those infected is either by a pill or topical ointment, Mr. Cayer said, and all four floors of the facility are going through a thorough cleaning

The basic signs of scabies, the CDC site said, include an itchy, pimple-like rash often in the creased areas of the body including the wrist, elbows, between fingers, in the groin area, and arm pits and is spread by skin-to-skin contact.

“Institutions such as nursing homes, extended-care facilities, and prisons are often sites of scabies outbreaks,” the CDC site says.

The hospital was not impacted by the outbreak.

Mr. Cayer said officials hope to be able to open the nursing home to begin allowing some visitors by the end of the week in accordance with the Department of Health recommendations.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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