Fifteen residents of the Gallagher Center of Saint Mary’s Home in Erie, PA have developed what physicians believe was scabies, a contagious skin infection caused by skin mites. An unknown number of staff and patients’ family members also developed the condition. The first case was reported in the spring, though most cases were reported in June and July according to the facility. The original patient was treated by a dermatologist, but other cases followed.
Once the the nursing home realized that it was dealing with a scabies outbreak, every patient in the 39-bed Alzheimer’s unit examined. The nursing home also ordered the entire unit disinfected, including patients’ beds three straight days. Scabies is usually not a dangerous condition, but it can lead to painful skin infections. It is spread by skin-to-skin contact and by sharing towels or bed sheets. Scabies is commonly treated with the prescription drugs permethrin (Elimite, Acticin) and crotamiton (Eurax).