Who gets scabies

Scabies exists worldwide. About 200 million people globally are affected by scabies at any given time. Scabies affects some of the world’s most disadvantaged people, including those from island communities in the Pacific, to favelas of Latin America, remote rural communities across Africa and Australia, and displaced populations living in camps. In resource-poor settings, scabies and its complications impose a major cost on health care systems.

Although scabies can affect anyone, infants and children are particularly at risk. Research has shown that in some communities, especially in the Pacific region, it has been found that 20% to 30% of the general population and often greater than 50% of children have scabies.

Scabies is transmitted from person to person, primarily through direct skin-to-skin contact. Scabies mites spread easily and rapidly in crowded conditions such as, schools, villages, refugee camps and prisons. The delay between infection and symptoms results in many asymptomatic household contacts. Therefore, it is important in all instances to treat household contacts of cases. The risk of re-infestation is high if contacts are not treated, especially if contacts are infants or young children.

It cannot be transmitted to humans from dogs or other animals with sarcoptic mange, which is caused by other varieties of the Sarcoptes mite. It is not associated with poor hygiene.

WHO added scabies as a Neglected Tropical Disease in 2017. The recommendation was made to respond to the high burden of scabies and its complications, particularly in areas with limited access to health care. Of the currently listed NTDs, only intestinal worms (soil-transmitted helminthiases) and snail fever (bilharzia or schistosomiasis), affect more people globally than scabies. Scabies is also one of the highest-burden NTDs with 3.8 million disability-adjusted life–years (DALYs). The WSP strategy is guided by the Framework for Scabies Control outlined in the WHO Informal Consultation Meeting Report, 2019.

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