11 January 2018

Liberia: Health Officials Confirm More Cases of Scabies

Authorities at the National Public Health Institute (NPHIL) and the Ministry of Health have announced an increase in the number of people now affected by strange skin disease/rashes or scabies (locally called "be serious")

The authorities said as at January 5, 2017 to present additional 3,576 suspected cases have been reported.

In a statement issued Tuesday night, the health officials said as of mid-December 2017 to January 4, 2017, they received alert of the unknown skin disease from 5 counties beginning with Montserrado-82 followed by Rivercess- 175, Margibi Bong- 16 and Grand Bassa 576.

The officials said after active case search was launched, between January 5, 2017 to present, additional three thousand five hundred and seventy-six (3,576) suspected cases have been reported from three counties (Montserrado- 3150, Rivercess -315, Grand Bassa-111 with no death recorded.

According to the NPHIL release, on January 8 and 9 respectively, NPHIL's National Reference Laboratory tested 42 cases. Seventeen (17) out of 42 cases were confirmed of Scabies disease through laboratory confirmation.

Meanwhile, it says 175 cases that were previously reported have been treated in Rivercess using Benzyl Benzoate lotion with support from World Health Organization (WHO) with a 100% cure rate. This mean, Scabies is preventable and treatable.

Actions taken so far by NPHIL in collaboration with MoH/CHTs includes but not limited to the following:

County Surveillance Officers (CSOs) in the five affected countieshave initiated active case search with Zonal Surveillance Officers (ZSOs), as well as Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) especially in Montserrado, Health promotion and awareness are ongoing, Radio talk shows, Response activities activated and Case management and case definition plan have been developed

Scabies is a parasitic infection caused by a Mite (Sarcoptes Scabia). It is transmitted by skin-to-skin contacts,contact of body part during sexual intercourse with affected person and contacts with affected linens, clothing's, bath towels, beddings, furnishings etc. Children are mostly affected but it affects any age, sex, ethnic groups and socioeconomic levels. The mites can survive for only a few days off the human or animal body.

Scabies infestation occurs worldwide and is very common. Scabies has been around in Liberia from time to time, it is not new. "No need to Panic, Take preventive measures". Scabies can affect anyone of any age (including a baby or child) or race. It has been estimated that about 300 million cases occur each year throughout the world.

The signs and symptoms include, intense itching especially at night, rashes especially around body folds (fingers, buttocks, under armpits, genital areas, etc.

Scabies can be prevented by avoiding contact with affected person, clothing and or linens of affected person, over-crowdedness and improved personal hygiene (wash clothing, linens with properly with boiling water and detergent soap).

For case management, cases with super infection (rash with sore and puss)s of skin rashes should be refer to the nearest health clinic and cases without super infection can be treated at home with supervision by the CHV, including household treatment with a lotion containing benzyl benzoate.

The National Public Health Institute recommends the followings: Scabies can be treated by Benzyl Benzoate, Disinfections of clothing need to be wash properly with boiling water and detergent soap.Proper hygiene and sanitary condition is highly recommended and always taking all preventive measures to keep safe.

"A Joint NPHIL and MoH team are on the field and will continue to keep surveillance and the general public is encouraged to report such disease to the nearest health facility or call our hotline 4455," the statement said.

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