Update: Big Island hospital confirms outbreak of scabies

Local News

KHON2 News has confirmed an outbreak of scabies at the Kona Community Hospital on the Big Island.

A spokesperson for the hospital said the outbreak was confirmed on Monday, November 19.

The hospital says it is working with the Hawaii State Health Department. They also began a hospital-wide infection containment protocol when they confirmed the outbreak.

Officials said:

“We did implement procedures and protocols per our policies for any infectious outbreak.  Our interim chief nurse executive and infection prevention director have been coordinating management of the outbreak since then.”

They currently have about 475 employees.

Workers who were potentially exposed have been in contact with the hospital’s Infection Prevention Department.

They say they are unable to give an accurate number of how many could be affected until six to eight weeks due to the incubation period of scabies.

Officials said in a statement:

“Our Infection Prevention Department, clinical staff, Environmental Services Department and Hospital leadership are taking all precautions to protect patients, visitors and staff from potential exposure to scabies.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 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 its eggs. 

The most common symptoms of scabies are intense itching and a pimple-like skin rash. 

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

If you never had scabies, symptoms could take four to six weeks to appear.

“Presumably at a hospital, it gets brought in by a patient. It gets transmitted to a health care provider and because it’s highly contagious. Health care providers can transmit it to other health care providers and even potentially to other patients. So even if you’re taking the best precautions with hand washing and gloves, it is transmissible,” said Dr. James Ireland with the John A. Burns School of Medicine.

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