Health chief toughens prison scabies treatment

ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Paul Kelly has taken more aggressive action to contain an outbreak of scabies at the prison following further cases being reported on Friday.

“Scabies is a fairly common infection in the community, but it is highly infectious,” said Dr Kelly. “This means it can spread rapidly through institutions, like the Alexander Maconochie Centre, where a large number of people live in relatively close contact.

“With the information that further cases have occurred, my view is that that a more comprehensive approach to treatment of scabies at the AMC is required.

“That approach will include enhanced information to visitors, staff and detainees and the provision of treatment to all detainees and to staff with direct contact with detainees. All bed linen will need to be cleaned on the same day. Planning for this has commenced and will take place within the next few days. In the meantime, treatment for detainees with symptoms will continue as usual.”

Scabies is caused by a microscopic mite. It burrows into the skin and lays eggs which then hatch and travel back to the surface of the skin. The infestation causes people to break out in rashes and suffer intense itching, but is easily treatable with a topical cream and cleaning of bed linen. It is an uncomfortable  condition but is rarely medically dangerous. People can, however, become re-infected with scabies after treatment and ensuring that all infectious people receive treatment is important to avoid ongoing transmission.


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