Scabies cases being treated at Providence Place

Nathan Liewicki
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CEO notes there is no outbreak of the itchy skin infection

Two cases of scabies were confirmed in the north ward of Providence Place on Feb. 19.

A bulletin inside the east entrance of Providence Place notes that scabies cases have surfaced in the long-term facility. There is, however, no outbreak of scabies at this time. 

In an email obtained by the Times-Herald, Providence Place CEO Paul Nyhof, noted that upon the discovery of scabies, “the two residents were placed in isolation and precautions for these two residents were put in place, with treatment following immediately.”

The scabies cases were discovered in Providence Place’s north ward, but the ward was not closed off.

The long-term care facility did, however, implement enhanced precautions to ward off the potential spread of the itchy skin infection, including limiting congregate activities to affected areas.

The entire contents of the affected rooms were bagged and isolated for seven days. They were also subjected to an enhanced cleaning prior to and after treatment. Mattresses, chairs and other related items are Hepavacced to remove any potential contaminants.

“Typically it's like a little pimply sort of rash where you flex, like your wrists, the bend in the arm, behind the knees, and under skin folds,” said Dr. Mark Vooght, chief medical officer for the Five Hills Health Region. “You sometimes see a little track where the bug has been burrowing underneath the skin and you can get secondary infections occurring because people scratch them.”

Vooght stressed the importance of diagnosing scabies. He added that contraction of scabies is caused by “close physical contact.”

It’s not known how the Providence Place residents contracted scabies, but Nyhof confirmed that it’s not an outbreak.

According to Vooght, an outbreak occurs when the transmission of a disease or infection spreads to multiple wards, or geographic localities.

There was, however, a scabies outbreak in Providence Place last fall.

“In September there was a small (issue) and I think we could call it an outbreak,” Nyhof told the Times-Herald Wednesday. “There was one unit that was completely contained because of scabies.”

He added that protocols and practices in place to manage infection prevention control are up to par when outbreaks occur in healthcare environments.

“There are all kinds of potentials (for contraction). It could have been from a visitor. It could have been from a staff member,” Nyhof said regarding the two recent scabies cases. “Any of those are possible.”

“We don’t know of any staff members with scabies, so my guess is it’s likely from a visitor.”

As of Wednesday afternoon there were no other confirmed scabies cases in Providence Place and the two residents continue to be treated.

“Scabies are quite easily treated with permethrin,” said Vooght.

“The important thing is to clean people's clothes under very high temperatures – your high heat wash and your high heat dryer – otherwise you can get little mites transferred in clothes. You can get a person reinfected and that often happens in facilities and institutions where you don't quite eradicate it in a person's environment.” 

Vooght said it can be a very tedious process, but it’s necessary to prevention the itchy skin infection from reappearing.

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: Times-Herald

Geographic location: Providence Place

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