(BIVN) – Visitor restrictions continue at Kona Community Hospital as part of the infection prevention protocols put in place to manage a recent outbreak of scabies.
Since November 19, the hospital says it has been working to contain the spread of scabies. According to health officials, scabies is “a highly contagious, but common infection that spreads from person to person by skin-to-skin contact. Signs and symptoms include intense itching and a pimple-like rash.” The hospital confirmed the outbreak in a November 27 media advisory.
According to a Friday media release from Kona Community Hospital:
The decision was made to maintain visitor restrictions to patient care areas in order to control the flow of traffic through the hospital and prevent cross-contamination, which can lead to re-exposure. Exceptions to the temporary no-visitor policy are in place for the Obstetrics and Intensive Care Units. As a reminder to the community, hospital leadership stresses that the hospital is not closed. KCH continues to treat and admit patients to all hospital units, including all inpatient and outpatient services.
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, human scabies is caused by an infestation of the skin by the human itch mite (Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis). “The microscopic scabies mite burrows into the upper layer of the skin where it lives and lays its eggs,” the CDC says. “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.” (see CDC photo below.)
“Scabies has an incubation period of two to eight weeks from potential exposure to active symptoms,” Kona Community Hospital says. “During this time an exposed person can still spread scabies. The hospital will continue to monitor employees and patients for the maximum period.”
The CDC says institutions such as nursing homes, extended-care facilities, and prisons are often sites of scabies outbreaks.