February 2010
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Scabies is an infectious skin condition which is caused due to the microscopic mites beneath the surface of the skin. These mites which cause scabies on the human host are identified as Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis and these could easily spread by coming into direct skin contact with the contaminated objects or infested individuals. Being highly contagious in nature, scabies are known to cause alarming epidemics on crowded places such as nursing homes, schools, kindergartens and orphanages.

In order to prevent the spread of disease, it is advisable to avoid contact with the infested people. Scabies can live up to one week without the human host and therefore the personal items such as linens, clothing and towels of the affected persons must be thoroughly washed to avoid second infestations. Secondly, the symptoms of scabies do not appear for a few weeks and hence can mislead the diagnosis of the condition. As soon as the parasite contaminates the skin, one of the initial symptoms is rash, severe itch and skin inflammation.

The mites that cause scabies would not be able to survive without the human host; therefore the female mites burrowed within the surface of the skin lay eggs and spread the infestation to the other parts of the body. The eggs might contain the toxic elements which generate severe itch and allergies. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae would appear on the surface of the skin and develop into the adult mites. After the treatment, even if the larvae are removed, they could still survive for a week.

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