Prevent and Protect: Scabies Outbreak Calls for Extra Precaution

Andrea Salow, Contents Editor

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Students are worrying about their Christmas plans now, but a month ago, they worried about a disease.

Principal Tim Felderman said that scabies began to spread among West Delaware students the week of Oct. 16.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, scabies are described as a “skin disease caused by a bug called a mite. Scabies mites burrow under the skin, producing pimple-like bumps.”

While anyone can be infected by this disease, it’s most commonly infectious in nursing homes, institutions, and child care centers.

Teachers were informed about the outbreak Oct. 23 before a message was sent to parents the following day. Health Associate Elaine Gibbs sent home eight students for having a possible case of scabies. The students visited a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Since mites can live on a surface for up to an hour, custodians and teachers cleaned throughout the high school. According to Principal Tim Felderman, classrooms, bathrooms, gyms, and locker rooms were sanitized beginning Oct. 23.

Music teachers Duane Philgreen and Mark Philgreen had a large clean-up in the music department. For twelve hours, an ozone machine disinfected each of the dressing rooms as well as the uniform room where the band uniforms and choir robes are stored. In addition, the Philgreens and custodians wiped down all 688 seats in Hanson Auditorium with disinfectant wipes.

“The staff worked diligently to get everything cleaned,” Duane Philgreen said. “Students were instructed that they needed to keep everything sanitary during the musical season where almost every surface was being touched or used.”

The disease brought up many discussions from students inside and outside of classrooms alike.

“The thing I emphasized in health class was for people not to overreact,” physical education and health teacher Jeff Voss said. “As long as everyone followed protocol, the issue would be taken care of in a timely fashion.”

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