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The scabies is back in Germany: more and more cases of illness
The skin disease “scabies” was considered halfway defeated in Germany - but now it is returning with an unpredictable severity. Regular outbreaks occur again and again. Health professionals are concerned.
Never completely disappeared from the scene
Scabies: Just when the word is spoken, some people already touch their arms and start scratching. Many believe that the contagious skin disease has died out, but this is not the case. "There are always phases in which itchy cases accumulate, then their frequency decreases again, but the disease has never completely disappeared from the scene," said dermatologist Helmut Schöfer from the dermatology clinic of the Frankfurt University Clinic.
Diagnosis and treatment are becoming an issue
The professional association of German dermatologists announced that the cases of scabies are increasing. There are no concrete figures, "but the feedback from dermatologists indicates an increase in diseases".
In the Aachen region alone, the number of cases reported from schools and daycare centers rose from eleven (2013) to 316 (2016). "There is no explanation for this increase," said the spokesman for the Detlef Funken urban region.
Skin disease is caused by itch mites
Scabies is a parasitic skin disease that is accompanied by red pustules, itchy rash and pain. The uncomfortable complaints are caused by itch mites, the droppings and eggs in the skin of those affected, where they trigger allergic reactions.
This then triggers the severe itching that gave the disease its name. Seeing the cause of scabies in poor hygiene is a prejudice, experts say.
The mites usually look for parts of the body with a thin horny layer and a higher body temperature, so that in particular finger spaces, wrists, elbows, genital area, buttocks, navel, armpits, the area behind the ears, knees, flexions, ankles and feet are affected.
The neck and head are often affected in small children. First of all, the infection runs without symptoms. It is only after about two to five weeks that there is an immune reaction with the typical symptoms.
Clinical appearance has changed
The dermatologist and lecturer at the University of Cologne, Bernhard Korge, explains that people with dry skin are more affected than people with oily skin. According to the doctor, the diagnosis has become more difficult because the clinical appearance has changed and may resemble eczema.
After the correct diagnosis and the right medication, the patient no longer poses a risk of infection after just one day.
Transmission through direct skin-to-skin contact
As a rule, scabies are transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact. The risk of infection is particularly high when many people are in a confined space. According to Korge, in addition to kindergartens and schools, hotel beds, old people's homes and hospitals can also be breeding grounds.
Kill mites at higher temperatures
According to the RKI, it is very likely that scabies mites will not be infectious for longer than 48 hours at the usual room temperature and humidity in Germany (21 degrees and 40–80 percent relative humidity).
“At an ambient temperature of 34 ° C, mites survive less than 24 hours, at 50 ° C (e.g. washing machine, dryer) not more than 10 minutes. Lower temperatures and a higher relative humidity, on the other hand, extend the survival time, ”said the experts.
Therefore: clothes, bed linen, towels and other objects with longer physical contact should be washed at least 50 degrees for at least ten minutes. "If this is not possible, the objects and textiles can be packed in plastic bags or sealed in foil and stored for 72 hours at at least 21 ° C," writes the RKI.
Upholstered furniture, sofa cushions or textile floor coverings can be vacuumed with a strong vacuum cleaner (dispose of the filter and bag afterwards) or not used for at least 48 hours. (ad)