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West Delaware Reacts to October Scabies Outbreak

December 1, 2017

Prevent and Protect: Scabies Outbreak Calls for Extra Precaution

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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    A Dirty Feeling

    No one knows where they came from and no one knows who had them. Eight students were sent home due to what looked like scabies in the week of Oct. 16.

    Two anonymous students said they recognized scabies when little red bumps showed up on their skin and started to itch. Their parents took them to the doctor’s office for an accurate diagnosis.

    Neither of these students know how they got scabies. “I could have gotten them from anywhere,” student A said.

    Student B said that scabies burns more than hurts. In warm water the scabies seemed to dig deeper in the skin and burn more than in colder water. A trail under the skin even became visible.

    Student A said that it felt like everyone knew, and they were too scared to itch in public. They were afraid that people would view them as weird. “It’s extremely embarrassing,” the student said. “No one wants to feel dirty.”

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