by Deena Wicker, November 8, 2022
On October 12th, several members of the English Department were informed of possible scabies, giving professors the option to temporarily move courses to virtual format.
According to Allison Baker, professor and chair of the Department of English and Modern Languages, it was later found that only one case had been reported unofficially. To alleviate concerns, we have requested that the Environmental Health and Safety Department clean the English classrooms in Buildings 5, 9 and 24.
“[Students]were worried. They were nervous and uninformed about how scabies is transmitted,” Baker said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, common scabies infestations occur when microscopic mites burrow under the top layer of skin, causing itching and small, bumpy rashes. It is spread by “target and prolonged contact”.
Diagnosis requires confirmation of existing ticks. This can be detected by the presence of eggs or droppings. Treatment includes the application of mangeicides, prescription drugs used to kill mites and their eggs. Relief is usually seen within 2-4 weeks after treatment.
Another variation of scabies, Norwegian scabies (scaly scabies), is a more severe form of scabies that poses a higher risk for immunocompromised people. Because of its high tick count, it is more contagious than scabies and is usually treated orally.
Norwegian scabies poses a significant threat to student health, but diagnosis and treatment are readily available through student health and wellness services.
“Scabies can be diagnosed. It’s not like COVID,” said Rita O’Neill, administrative director of Student Health and Wellness Services. “It’s not a respiratory or airborne infection.”
O’Neill said the student health center did not receive symptom reports or confirmed cases, and management options were limited.
“Basically, we got in touch with faculty for any information. We put out issues about what it was, what it wasn’t, and what it could easily treat,” O’Neill said. I got “That’s all we can do.”
The students were notified by the professor via email and Discord group chat and warned of potential problems in Buildings 5, 9 and 24. Many students expressed anxiety due to the uncertainty of the situation and believed that the lack of announcement was irresponsible on the part of the university authorities.
“If you know…students who have it, I don’t need to know their names,” said English Education student James Radigan. I just need to know if it was and how to avoid it.”
Radigan Given the ongoing public health issues such as COVID and monkeypox, I felt the situation should have been addressed more urgently. It was not
Due to the lack of reports, diagnoses, or apparent threats to student health, the SHS was unable to officially announce the outbreak. Furthermore, the condition’s low infection rate and accessible treatment do not justify its official announcement, given the health center’s previous ability to diagnose and treat it.
At the request of the statement, O’Neill is urging students to report symptoms that they believe are of public concern to the Center for Student Health. Official reports allow SHS to properly determine the level of illness concern and safely notify students accordingly.
Students can contact the Student Health Center for reports, appointments, and general health information.
Feature image by Deena Wicker