An Oahu elementary school is alerting parents and staff of a scabies outbreak on campus.
The Hawaii Department of Education sent a letter home to parents after several cases of the infection were reported at Makalapa Elementary School in Salt Lake.
“It’s a little disturbing that it’s going on at a school,” said Darcel Raia, a grandmother of students at the school. “I’m a little scared for my grandchildren. I have three there. I don’t want them to get it.”
KHON2 asked the DOE how many students were infected and if the school has dealt with scabies in the past.
They responded that they can’t share that information. However, officials did say classrooms and facilities are being disinfected.
A doctor says the skin infection is common.
“It’s a mite and generally it’s not picked up by the environment. It’s just passed from person to person,” explained Dr. James Ireland with the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine.
Ireland says scabies is a skin infection that causes itchy rashes and can be found on various parts of the body.
According to the Department of Health, the mites burrow under the skin to live and lay eggs causing the intense itching.
“If it’s the first time you’ve been infected, it may take two to four weeks to develop symptoms. But if you’ve been infected before and you get infected again, then the symptoms can come up in a day,” Ireland said.
Scabies is most commonly spread through direct contact with infected skin, but it can also be passed by shared clothes, towels, and bedding.
“It’s common to see this anywhere you have a lot of people. So whether it be a household, or a school, or a healthcare facility, or even a prison,” Ireland said.
So how do you get rid of the mites?
Dr. Ireland says the infection can be treated with over-the-counter medicine.
Clothes, bedding, and towels should be washed in hot water.
Disinfecting and vacuuming surfaces is also recommended.
According to the DOH, children and adults can return to work or school the day after treatment.
If you think you might have scabies, you are urged to see a doctor as soon as possible.
Online information: http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/disease_listing/scabies/