Scabies cases four times higher than last year; PCR test in development
The number of scabies cases in the Netherlands has quadrupled since the end of 2021. Health service GGD is expanding its scabies consultation hours and working on a PCR test to diagnose the skin condition more quickly, AT5 reports.
Scabies is caused by tiny bugs getting under your skin. It creates an extremely itchy rash. “It is not fatal, but it is very annoying. That means we have to do something about it,” GGD dermatologist Henry de Vries said. The condition is commonly treated with ointment and by washing all your clothing and bedding at 60 degrees.
The number of scabies cases started climbing in the spring. Now about 20 out of every 100,000 Netherlands residents have scabies, compared to five out of 100,000 at the end of 2021.
“It is common among students who live together and have many changing intimate contacts,” De Vries said. The condition is more common in large cities like Amsterdam. “If people walk and live close together, it occurs more often.”
“The GGD takes this trend very seriously,” De Vries told the Amsterdam broadcaster. “That is why we will be organizing more consultation hours from January. We want to gain more insight into who has it and increase source and contact tracing.”
The health service is also working on a PCR test. “We know that from the coronavirus pandemic, of course. Scabies leaves flakes on the skin, and we can examine those flakes to see if they contain DNA from the scabies mites.”
In the meantime, the GGD doctor hopes the number of cases will drop. “You see that sometimes it suddenly decreases spontaneously. So we hope, especially with the effort that we are now planning with the GGD, that we will get that curve back down to the old level. Because getting rid of it completely won’t happen.”