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Kelly Smith, Published August 19 2009

Valley City scabies not an ‘outbreak’

Barnes County health officials are reassuring residents in Valley City that while they’ve received reports of several cases of scabies since last week, there isn’t an outbreak.

“It is not an outbreak,” Barnes County Public Health Director Theresa Will said Tuesday. “I believe it’s contained; it’s just something to be aware of.”

The department sent out a news release Monday reassuring the community that several cases of scabies shouldn’t cause alarm.

Scabies is an infestation of the skin by the microscopic human itch mite that causes itching symptoms Will likened to head lice.

It is spread by close, direct contact, not casual contact, and can be easily treated with a prescription lotion, she said.

“It’s not dangerous at all,” she added. “It’s pesky, it’s a nuisance.”

The parasite has been a nuisance to the 170 residents living at the Sheyenne Care Center in Valley City this week.

All events through Sunday have been canceled at the nursing home, but visitors will be allowed, though it’s not recommended until then.

“Basically, we’re just being cautious,” CEO Craig Christensen said.

He said only one case of scabies was positively identified a couple of weeks ago. Now the nursing home is cleaning the facility and treating all residents and staff.

“We’re just taking precautionary measures to prevent it from going anywhere,” he said. “It’s not anything I feel is out of hand.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515