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Kona Community Hospital treats all employees for scabies after outbreak

KAILUA-KONA >> All staff members at a Big Island hospital have been treated for scabies following an outbreak of the contagious skin disease, officials said.

Staff members were treated whether they were showing symptoms or not after the disease was identified last month, Kona Community Hospital spokeswoman Judy Donovan told West Hawaii Today.

Patient visitation has remained restricted since Dec. 6, but the hospital is continuing to admit and treat patients, Donovan said. All outpatient services also remain open.

Hospital officials have not said how many people have contracted scabies. The hospital employs about 450 people.

Scabies is caused by parasitic mites that burrow under the skin and lay eggs, leading to rash and intense itching, according to the state Department of Health. It spreads from skin-to-skin contact or contact with mite-covered items. Scabies can be treated by medicated skin cream or lotion followed by a hot bath.

The hospital is dealing with the disease by using preventive measures combined with limited contact. The hospital said the disease is not a public health threat.

“Our surveillance of this situation will be ongoing for up to eight weeks,” said Lisa Downing, the hospital’s director of infection prevention and employee health.

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