Scabies outbreak among Dutch students

Hundreds of students throughout the Netherlands have been diagnosed with scabies - a condition that causes itching and rashes - over the past months, infection expert Jan van der Have of public health institute GGD Groningen confirmed to NU.nl on Wednesday.

GGDs in Groningen, Leiden, Utrecht and The Hague, among others, observed a remarkable increase in scabies diagnoses. The exact number of cases can not be determined, because scabies is not a serious disease and doctors are therefore not obliged to report it. "The increase can be called striking", Van der Have said to the newspaper. "Scabies is not a disease that fits in 2018.Those who observe basic hygienic rules, like washing your bed linen every week, have nothing to fear."

Scabies is caused by miniscule mites laying eggs and leaving droppings under the skin, causing itchiness and rashes. The disease is usually transmitted through mattresses or bedding in which mites have nested. "It can also be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact", Van der Have said. "But it is much more likely that the infected students have been lying in a dirty bed. Many GGDs also note that many patients return to the doctor after one or two months, because they again suffer from scabies."

Van der Have has no explanation for the sudden increase in scabies. The fact that hygiene is often not a top priority for students is nothing new, he said. 

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