Some children at a Shawnee Mission preschool center are battling a skin infection called scabies.
More than 250 children and staff at the Head Start of Shawnee Mission will be home until Monday because of scabies. The school is being cleaned vigorously before reopening next week.
As many as 20 children and staff are suffering from the infection.
Scabies is a very itchy, contagious skin infection caused by microscopic mites that burrow into the skin's upper layers and cause a rash. It is an infection that occurs not only in children, but in people of all ages.
"The younger a child, it seems the more likely they are to develop widespread infestations," said Dr. Ken Wible, a pediatrician.
Children from birth to kindergarten are served at the Head Start center. A parent of a 3-year-old was concerned about his child's exposure to the infection, which is easily transmitted.
"Actually if there's a member of your household who has them, you have to assume everyone has them whether they have symptoms or not," Wible said.
It can take four to six weeks for symptoms to develop. The infection itself isn't dangerous, but it is itchy, annoying, frustrating and icky. The biggest risk is developing a staph or strep infection from constantly scratching.
"Young children usually can't control the scratching so they get a lot of secondary infections from scratching all the time," Wible said.
Scabies is easily diagnosed and is treated with a cream.
"You cover the entire body from the neck down. Leave it on for 14 hours. Shower it off. Wait a week and do it again," the doctor said.
Like with lice, you need to wash all your bedding and clothing in hot water. What you can't wash, you should tie up in a plastic bag and leave it alone for two weeks.
For more information about scabies from the American Academy of Pediatrics on scabies, click here.
For more information about the treatment of scabies, click here.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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