The Threat of Post-Earthquake Scabies Outbreak
On February 6, 2023, at 04:17, we experienced the biggest disaster of the century with the 7.4 magnitude earthquake that occurred in Kahramanmaraş. We lost tens of thousands of our citizens in the 6 February earthquake that caused great destruction in ten provinces. We do not yet know the exact number of our losses in this disaster, where the pain of millions of our citizens who lost their loved ones will turn into years of trauma.
After every major disaster, many negative pictures occur. Inadequate hygiene occurs with the collapse of the clean water network and sewerage system, which collapsed due to the effect of the earthquake. A number of epidemic diseases may occur with the effect of the survivors being trapped in narrow living spaces that are far from hygienic conditions.
These epidemic diseases include dysentery, typhoid fever, cholera, hepatitis A, respiratory tract infections, upper respiratory tract infections, pneumonia and flu-like diseases. In addition, dermatological parasitic diseases such as lice and scabies can also be seen.
Among these epidemics, those that fall under my responsibility as a dermatologist are epidemics of lice and scabies. In this article, I will tell you about the scabies epidemic.
What is Scabies?
Scabies is a skin disease that causes itching and rashes on the skin. This disease occurs when a parasite called Sarcoptes scabiei, a type of mite, burrows into the upper layers of the skin. Eggs and feces of parasites accumulate in these tunnels, causing skin irritation and itching.
What are the Precautions to be Taken Against Scabies Epidemics After the Earthquake?
To prevent the spread of scabies outbreaks after an earthquake, the following measures should be taken:
- * Hygiene rules must be followed: Compliance with hygiene rules such as hand cleaning, regular bathing, access to clean water and food sources is important in preventing scabies outbreaks.
- * Housing conditions should be improved: Ensuring that earthquake survivors have suitable housing can help prevent outbreaks of scabies. In crowded accommodation places, contact with infected people should be avoided.
- * Treatment of infected people: People with scabies should be treated immediately. Those infected during the earthquake need to be identified and treated.
- * Communal items should be cleaned: Regular cleaning and disinfection of communal items can help prevent the spread of scabies outbreaks.
- * Public health measures should be taken: After the earthquake, public health authorities should take the necessary measures to prevent outbreaks of scabies. These measures may include identifying and treating people with symptoms of scabies, and vaccinating against scabies outbreaks.
As a result, in order to prevent the spread of scabies outbreaks after the earthquake, it is important to comply with the hygiene rules, to improve the shelter conditions, to treat the infected people, to clean the common use items and to take public health.
How Is Scabies Treated?
Scabies is usually treated using prescription or over-the-counter lotions, creams, or medications. The treatment is applied to kill the parasites and reduce itching on the skin.
The following treatment methods are often used:
- * Permethrin Lotion: This lotion is applied to the infected area and left on the entire surface of the skin, including the head and neck, for 8-14 hours. Next, the lotion is washed off with water. This treatment is usually repeated once a week.
- * Benzyl Benzoate Lotion: This lotion is used similarly to Permethrin lotion. It is applied to the infected area and left on the entire surface of the skin for 25 - 72 hours.
- * Ivermectin: This drug is taken orally and is usually administered as a single dose.
- * Sulfur Cream: This cream is applied to the infected area and left for 25 - 72 hours. The skin is then washed and dried. This treatment is repeated once a week.
Anti-itch drugs can be used to relieve itching on the skin during treatment. It is also recommended that infected persons be treated together with all contacts.
After treatment, skin rashes and itching may persist for several weeks. This is a normal situation. However, if symptoms are severe or persist after treatment, you should consult a healthcare professional.
Spc. Dr. Enkhjargal (Egi) Losol