Two Scabies Outbreaks at a Tertiary Care Hospital in Portugal

Nuno Gomes, Pedro Moura Guedes, Pedro Norton, Filomena Azevedo, Cármen Lisboa


Introduction: Scabies outbreaks in healthcare institutions are an emerging problem. To determine the best management strategy is a topical matter. We analyzed two hospital scabies outbreaks and reviewed the management strategy of institutional scabies outbreaks.
Material and Methods: We performed an observational retrospective study of two independent scabies outbreaks that occurred in a Portuguese tertiary hospital in 2018. Following the identification of the index cases, scabies cases and exposed individuals, we calculated the attack rate in patients and professionals. We also evaluated the treatment and infection control measures, as well as the global cost of each outbreak.
Results: The hospital outbreaks of scabies occurred in two wards of Internal Medicine. Both had as index cases institutionalized patients with dermatosis at the time of admission. In the Ward 1, there have been identified 409 exposed individuals, 14 cases of scabies and the attack rate was 3.4%. In the Ward 2, there have been identified 254 exposed individuals, 17 cases and the attack rate was 6.7%. Topical treatment was prescribed to the cases and environmental measures were implemented.
Discussion: In our analysis, both outbreaks had as index cases institutionalized patients and had a significant impact, with hundreds of exposed individuals and considerable costs. The analysis of hospital scabies outbreaks is mostly retrospective and represents an opportunity to review its best management strategy.
Conclusion: Implementation of guidelines on tackling scabies outbreaks in institutional settings is urgent.


Disease Outbreaks; Portugal; Scabies

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