Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut March 13, 2013 - 9:35 am

Kugluktuk takes a hard line on quelling scabies outbreak

DEA cancels after-school and evening events for next two weeks

This is what a magnified scabies mite looks like. (HANDOUT PHOTO)
This is what a magnified scabies mite looks like. (HANDOUT PHOTO)
A scabies rash can resemble pimples or small insect bites. (HANDOUT PHOTO)
A scabies rash can resemble pimples or small insect bites. (HANDOUT PHOTO)

Kugluktuk’s district education authority is getting tough on scabies.

The DEA has cancelled after-school and evening events for the elementary school and the high school for the next two weeks, the Kitikmeot School Operations confirmed.

That’s after the health centre said scabies is present in the western Nunavut community.

The goal of cancelling after-school activities is to get rid of scabies now before they spread.

Jonathan Bird from the KSO said otherwise school operations are not affected.

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

And scabies can spread rapidly under crowded conditions, where close body contact is frequent, the Centre for Disease Control says.

An infested person can spread scabies even if he or she has no symptoms. But often if you get scabies, you usually know it.

You see the trails of the mites on your skin, often accompanied by what appear as rows of small pimples, like mosquito or insect bites.  You may also suffer from severe itching especially at night — the earliest and most common symptom of scabies.

Itching, rash and sores may affect much of the body or be limited to common sites such as between the fingers or toes, chest, buttocks or shoulder blades.

The head, face, neck, palms, and soles often are involved in infants and very young children, but usually not adults and older children.

Symptoms typically appear two to six weeks after infestation for individuals never before exposed to scabies.

You can use a number of medications, including creams and pills, to treat scabies, but sometimes treatment must involve the entire household or community to prevent re-infection.

To stop the itchiness you can take antihistamines.

But the Centre for Disease Control says all household members and others who may have been potentially exposed should be treated at the same time as the infested person to prevent getting scabies again.

Bedding and clothing worn or used next to the skin anytime during the three days before treatment should be machine washed and dried using the hot water and hot dryer cycles.

Items that cannot be laundered can be de-infested by storing in a closed plastic bag for several days to a week.

That’s because scabies mites generally do not survive more than two to three days away from human skin.

Scabies have still managed to stay around for a long time.

Archeological evidence from Egypt and the Middle East suggests that scabies afflicted human beings as early as 494 BC.

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