Dartmouth-Hitchcock is working to stem the spread of scabies at its Lebanon facility. The infectious but non-fatal skin condition has been found in two people so far.
The first was a patient who arrived at the hospital in mid-August with a number of health conditions. That patient, who’s still in the hospital, wasn’t diagnosed with scabies until late September. Since then one Dartmouth staff member has been diagnosed and treated.
Scabies is a microscopic mite that burrows under the skin, causing painful rashes and blisters. It spreads from prolonged, skin-to-skin contact. Dartmouth has identified about 200 people who may have been exposed, and the hospital has administered preventative treatment to 500 people, according to Dr. Antonia Altomare, an infectious disease physician.
"I think it’s going to be a fine line before we know for sure if we’re in the clear, just because it’s a little bit of a ripple effect. There may be some stragglers that go out several months, but the bulk of this we should hope to have wrapped up in the next several week," says Dr. Altomare.
Dartmouth is also administering care to the family members of staff who may have been exposed. A scabies outbreak hit Exeter Hospital last year, with one patient and 33 employees being infected.