Scabies: What is it, how contagious can it be?

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) Scabies, when many hear the word they cringe because the idea of having a so-called bug on the skin, which can't be seen by the naked eye and causes people to scratch incessantly, isn't pleasant.

Monday WMBF News broke the story about two apparent cases of scabies at a local ambulance transport service after a tip from a viewer came into the newsroom.

Leaders with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control are investigating the apparent cases and are currently releasing limited information. At this point in the investigation DHEC says it was contained among co-workers of the ambulance service and is not believe to be a public health threat.

WMBF News wanted to answer any questions viewers might have about scabies and how contagious they can be.

Scabies is a skin infection, caused by a human mite. The most common symptoms of scabies is intense itching followed by a rash on the skin.

Winona McLamb, a Registered Nurse who is certified in Infectious Disease and Control, says scabies are transmitted through skin to skin contact, "well the worst form of scabies is quite contagious people who have Norwegian scabies which we don't see a lot have very crusting skin of a thousand of mites, but the usual garden variety scabies you might have 10 to 15 mites on the body and someone can be covered with the burrows and a rash."

DHEC leaders haven't released the type of scabies mite which could have been involved in the two cases.

Scabies is treatable with a prescription medication, McLamb says.

WMBF News will continue to bring you the details as the investigation continues.

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