Cook County Jail reports lice and scabies outbreak
Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart has ordered isolation within a Division of the Cook County Jail and a portion of Cermak Hospital after an outbreak of lice and scabies, according to a press release Friday.
At least 15 detainees have been diagnosed with the ectoparasite infestations.
Sheriff Dart says the isolation order will remain in place until further notice. Affected detainees have been isolated from the general population to allow for their treatment and to prevent further infestation. Detainees housed in the affected units are also being provided preventative treatment.
The units are being disinfected and detainees are being provided new linens and clothing. Linens are being laundered separately. Staff assigned to the affected units are also being closely monitored.
The isolation order will remain in effect until the infestation is eradicated.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human scabies is caused by an infestation of the skin by the human itch mite (Sarcoptes scabieivar. hominis). The microscopic scabies mite burrows into the upper layer of the skin where it lives and lays its eggs. The most common symptoms of scabies are intense itching and a pimple-like skin rash. The scabies mite usually is spread by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies.
Scabies occurs worldwide and affects people of all races and social classes. Scabies can spread rapidly under crowded conditions where close body contact is frequent. Institutions such as nursing homes, extended-care facilities, and prisons are often sites of scabies outbreaks.
Lice are parasitic insects that can be found on people’s heads, and bodies, including the pubic area. Human lice survive by feeding on human blood. Lice found on each area of the body are different from each other. The three types of lice that live on humans are
- Pediculus humanus capitis (head louse),
- Pediculus humanus corporis (body louse, clothes louse), and
- Pthirus pubis (“crab” louse, pubic louse).
Only the body louse is known to spread disease.
Lice infestations (pediculosis and pthiriasis) are spread most commonly by close person-to-person contact. Dogs, cats, and other pets do not play a role in the transmission of human lice. Lice move by crawling; they cannot hop or fly. Both over-the-counter and prescription medications are available for treatment of lice infestations.
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