The aftermath of a scabies outbreak in Prince George's County's fire department is hindering a volunteer station’s ability to raise money to buy life-saving equipment.
Since September there have been about 45 confirmed cases of scabies impacting 18 of the county's 45 fire stations, including the Silver Hill Volunteer Fire Department.
The Silver Hill station makes money hosting bingo to fund fire trucks, ambulances and other equipment that goes into this volunteer fire house that career fire fighters also use, but the county isn’t allowing any events in the fire hall until the Health Department gives the all clear.
“We received a letter from the fire chief’s office that we can no longer hold these because of a scabies epidemic,” Silver Hill President Charles Diana said.
Diana says his department is losing money.
“This could close bingo down permanently,” Diana said. “People may not come back, and that’s the big issue.”
Scabies is a mite that burrows into the skin and can spread from skin-to-skin contact, causing rashes and itching. No new cases have been reported in the past six weeks, but the incubation period can last for weeks, so the Silver Hill fire hall and others like it are closed for an extended period of time.
The county's department of health released a statement that reads in part, "It has been the Health Department’s recommendation since the scabies outbreak began months ago that fire stations impacted by the outbreak should not hold public events at their stations/halls. This is out of an abundance of caution so this outbreak can continue to be contained and not infect additional firefighters or infect the public.”
Diana questions how communication about the outbreak is being handled.
“If it’s that bad, why are we still detailing people all over the county, and how come we have no signs out front saying do not enter?” he said.
Silver Hill is holding off buying a new ambulance until it can start fundraising again.
The county spent about $10,000 per station to clean up the outbreak.