Scabies Scare at 2 Virginia Prisons

By DENA POTTER
|  Friday, Aug 12, 2011  |  Updated 5:09 PM EDT
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Scabies Scare at 2 Virginia Prisons

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Prison officials have canceled visitation and halted movement to and from two Virginia prisons because of a possible scabies outbreak.

About 90 of the 720 inmates at Mecklenburg Correctional Center and 70 of the 830 prisoners at Deep Meadow Correctional Center are suspected of contracting scabies, Department of Corrections spokesman Larry Traylor said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, human scabies is caused by an infestation of the skin by the human itch mite. The microscopic mite burrows into the skin where it lives and lays its eggs. The most common symptoms of scabies are intense itching and a pimple-like skin rash. The scabies mite usually spreads by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact.

Scabies can spread rapidly under crowded conditions, such as in nursing homes or prisons, where close body contact is frequent.

Traylor said all inmates at both facilities are being treated, but that the treatment takes several days. Although the cases aren't confirmed to be scabies, he said the treatment appeared to be working.

As a precaution, the department canceled visitation at the facilities this weekend out of concern for the inmates' family members, Traylor said. The treatment requires no contact with others.

The department also stopped transporting inmates to and from the facilities. Mecklenburg is an intake facility; Deep Meadow is a low security level prison.

Traylor said it takes time to order the medication and get it to all of those who may have been affected.

“Hopefully by next weekend visitation will resume,” Traylor said. “It takes several days for the medication to kick in.”

Traylor said the department also had warned local jails about the possible outbreak.

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