Students May Have Been Exposed to Scabies: Officials | NECN

Students May Have Been Exposed to Scabies: Officials

Health officials are warning Bristol parents that some students may have been exposed to scabies. (Published Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015)

Health officials are warning Bristol parents that some students may have been exposed to scabies.

School Health Services coordinator Catherine Plourde sent a letter home alerting parents to the skin infection, which is caused by mites and spread through physical contact or shared clothing, bedding or towels.

"Scabies is a bug that lives in your skin. It's a mite that you react to," explained board-certified dermatologist Dr. Frank Santoro, of Hartford HealthCare Medical Group. "The bug is transferred from one person to another and it causes an immune type of reaction to the skin that makes you very itchy."

It's not clear how many students may have been affected, but parents told NBC Connecticut the issue involves a classroom at the South Side Elementary School on Tuttle Road.

A fourth-grade student at the South Side School said his class is the one affected.

"She wanted to scratch it a lot," Jubari Cooper said of a female classmate who came to school with a rash. "It was super itchy. It looked like red bumps."

In the letter, Plourde urges parents to check their children for signs of an itchy rash or bumps, which can occur between the fingers and toes or on the wrist, elbows, armpits, waistline, abdomen, thighs or lower buttocks.

"Scabies can affect anyone," Plourde wrote. "It is not related to personal hygiene, age, or household."

She added that those who contract scabies are contagious until they receive treatment. Infected students must stay home from school until they start a prescription treatment.

"We usually start with using a ream that's put on head to toe at night and washed off after going to bed, and we recommend all clothing worn within 48 to 72 hours be washed in hot water," Santoro explained.

He emphasized that close contact is required to transmit scabies. Mites typically are not transferred by sitting on a couch or touching the same door handle as someone who has been infected.

Plourde said the affected classroom will be "thoroughly cleaned" and monitored.

Randall Lewis, whose child is in fourth grade at South Side School, said not all parents received Plourde's letter.

"I actually found out about it on a Facebook page," Lewis said. "Somebody who is also a parent at this school got this letter sent home with his child, and I hadn't gotten one myself, so it was actually a real shock to find out on Facebook and not from the school itself."

Parents with questions about scabies are encouraged to contact the school nurse or principal.

More information is also available through the Centers for Disease Control.

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