Scabies Outbreak Makes It Way To Cookeville Hospital
by Janet Kim
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Employees at Cookeville Regional Medical Center are now being treated for an itchy skin condition, after a scabies outbreak made its way into the mid-state hospital.
Cookeville Regional Medical Center Officials said they believe a patient with a severe case of scabies came to the hospital for treatment earlier this month. Severe cases of scabies, also referred to as crusted scabies, have been believed to be easier to spread.
"Normally you have to skin to skin contact to get scabies from someone, but someone with crusted scabies with bites on their body, flakes of skin can get on their bedding and can have mites on them," said Dr. Mark Pierce, the infectious disease specialist with Cookeville Regional Medical Center.
Martha Highers was a nurse that came into direct contact with the patient and contracted the condition.
"It became very itchy here and then started up on my arm," said Highers. "It was from contact with a patient to keep a patient from falling."
While hospital officials said it is under control, 44 employees are believed to have received symptoms of scabies and 50 others were treated as a preventative measure.
Dr. Pierce said with a healthy immune system, scabies is treatable and likely not deadly.
The State Health Department said it typically sees anywhere from one to four reports of scabies outbreaks in health care facilities each year. The state does not keep official numbers for scabies because it is not seen as a reportable condition.