Monrovia – Health authorities in Liberia disclosed on Wednesday that 3,576 people are now infected with a skin disease that has sparked wide spread health concern in the country, confirming that the disease is scabies.
Officials of the National Public Health Institute (NPHIL) and the Ministry of Health had earlier expressed uncertainties over the identity of the skin infection although they said most of the signs and symptoms patients were showing resemble scabies.
On Monday, NPHIL announced that 1,777 cases were reported from six counties including the Montserrado after it had said less than a week earlier that less than 600 cases from four counties were reported
According a release from the national public health institute in Monrovia, the national reference laboratory tested 42 cases out of which 17 were confirmed to be Scabies.
“After active case search was launched, between January 5, 2017 to present, additional three thousand five hundred and seventy-six (3,576) suspected cases have been reported from three counties (Montserrado- 3150, Rivercess -315, Grand Bassa-111 with no death recorded,” the release said.
NPHIL says the 175 cases that were previously reported in Rivercess County have been treated using Benyzl Benzoate lotion with support from World Health Organization (WHO) with a 100% cure rate, adding that “Scabies is preventable and treatable” and there was “No need to Panic, Take preventive measures”.
NPHIL says it has collaborated with ministry of health through the county health team to do surveillance in the five affected counties, have initiated active case search with Zonal Surveillance Officers and Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) especially in Montserrado.
The release also adds that health promotion and awareness, including radio talk shows, while response activities have been activated, while case management and case definition plan have been developed.
Scabies is a parasitic infection transmitted by skin-to-skin contacts, contact of body part during sexual intercourse with affected person and contacts with affected linens, clothing’s, bath towels, beddings, furnishings etc.
Children are mostly affected but it affects any age, sex, ethnic groups and socioeconomic levels. The mites can survive for only a few days off the human or animal body, NPHIL’s release said.
The signs and symptoms include, intense itching especially at night, rashes especially around body folds (fingers, buttocks, under armpits, genital areas, etc.
Health authorities are calling on people with “super infection” cases (rash with sore and puss) of skin should be refer or must go to the nearest health clinic and cases without super infection can be treated at home with supervision by the County Health Volunteer, including household treatment with a lotion containing benzyl benzoate.
NPHIL suggests that the disease can be treated by Benzyl Benzoate, while disinfections of clothing need to be wash properly with boiling water and detergent soap, recommended proper hygiene and sanitary condition to prevent its spread.
“A Joint NPHIL and MoH team are on the field and will continue to keep surveillance and the general public is encouraged to report such disease to the nearest health facility or call our hotline 4455,” the release said.