Scabies scare at Halifax hospital spreading to staff
Published Monday, October 7, 2019 9:28PM ADT
A case of scabies at a Halifax hospital is affecting far more people than just patients.
More than 20 staff members are undergoing treatment after reporting symptoms.
Scabies causes an itchy rash and can spread fairly easily.
Lorna MacDonald of Mount Uniacke is recovering after a hospital stay for a heart condition.
Along with medication for that, she's also been given treatments for scabies.
The itch is bad, but she says the "ick factor" is worse.
"It's horrifying to think you've got little critters on you, laying eggs in your skins - and it's just creepy," MacDonald said.
Caused by tiny mites that burrow into the outer layers of the skin, the infection is spread by skin-to-skin contact or by sharing clothes or towels.
MacDonald stayed at the Halifax Infirmary, where a case was recently confirmed through lab testing.
Then, workers started coming forward.
"We have over 20 staff who have reported to Occupational Health, Safety and Wellness that they're symptomatic at this time," said Angela Keenan.
Officials are urging employees with symptoms to get treatment as a precaution.
The union issued an advisory to members last Friday.
"Get checked out by your healthcare provider and follow the directions given by your healthcare provider -- regardless of what occupational health is telling you," said Jason MacLean, the president of the NSGEU.
The scabies scare at the MacDonald house is spreading.
"This has been just a nightmare," MacDonald said. "My little great grandson was up on my bed with me because he wanted to cuddle, and he got up and read his little book, and now he's all broke out."
Experts say symptoms generally appear four-to-six weeks after a person has been infested for the first time.
The union says it learned of the confirmed case back on Sept. 26, and as far as they're concerned, none of this had to happen.