Scabies outbreak in Blantyre, authorities tell schools, churches, mosques to be on high alert

Blantyre District Health Office has disclosed that it has registered an increase of cases of scabies in some of the health facilities in the district.

“From June to September, the office has registered a total of 255 cases. These cases are from South Lunzu (69), Chichiri Prison (9), Kadidi (17), Makata (20), Zingwangwa (9), Lighthouse (8), Dziwe (5), Mpemba (17), Gateway (61) Chimembe (2) and mobile clinic (38 cases),” reads a statement from the office signed by the Director of Health and Social Services, Gift Kawalazira dated 25 October, 2021 and made available to Nyasa Times.

According to the statement, scabies is a highly contagious skin disease, which is caused by parasites that live and move on the skin causing small blisters and papules and that it is associated with poor personal hygiene.

“The common presenting signs and symptoms include severe itching especially at night that causes scratch marks, lesions between fingers, on the hand, feet, flexor sides of wrists and armpits.

“For children, mostly affected parts are palms, sores head and neck,” reads the statement.

But the office has assured the people that it has adequate supplies of medicines (scabicides) and that anyone showing scabies signs and symptoms must consult their nearest community health worker or health facility. The health office is also alert and conducting active surveillance in addition to sensitising communities on adherence to preventive measures in order to control the spread of the outbreak in the district, it says.

According to district health office, the preventive measures include adhering to personal hygiene practices such as taking a bath every day, avoiding sharing of clothes, beddings, linen, towels, and avoiding congested places as the disease spreads through contact.

Institutions that deal with large groups of people like schools, churches, mosques must be on high alert on monitoring of the signs and symptoms and report any suspected cases to health authorities without delay, it says.

“For more information and reporting of cases, you can call Catherine Mwapasa on 0888871 007 (Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response Coordinator) Arlene Kachapira on 0999 472 294 (Dermatovenereology Officer, specialized in skin and sexually transmitted diseases),” concludes the statement.

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