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Shock as scabies epidemic is discovered in Oldham care homes

Councillor Barbara Brownridge. Photo: Oldham council.

An ‘epidemic’ of scabies in care homes has been taking place in Oldham, councillors were told.

Scabies is a rash caused by the infestation of the skin by a mite. It can cause a raised rash or spots, and be intensely itchy – especially at night.

The condition can be transmitted by prolonged or frequent skin-to-skin contact. The NHS says that people who live or work closely together in nurseries, university halls of residence or nursing homes are more at risk.

At a meeting of the full council, Councillor Barbara Brownridge, who holds the portfolio for health and social care, said that they are now able to tackle the outbreaks after ‘challenges’ accessing the necessary treatment.

She said: “Thanks to fantastic cross-GM work we have now sourced enough treatments for the scabies outbreak.

“The first treatment has been applied, the second treatment will be applied in the next week, so hopefully we’ll see the back of it.”

Liberal Democrat Councillor Louie Hamblett added: “Well done for sorting out our scabies epidemic.”

A report presented to full council stated: “The public health team has been working closely with our care homes to reduce the spread of infections. We have seen an increase in scabies cases and outbreaks over the past few months.

“Staff from NHS GM, adult social care, our care homes, primary care, and the public health team have all been working to address these outbreaks. There have been challenges in accessing treatment which have taken time to address.

“It is really important that scabies is diagnosed and properly treated to avoid further spread, in particular in our most vulnerable residents. Our staff have been training care home staff in how to apply treatment, and prevent spread.”

Oldham council confirmed it has been working with district nurse teams to support with dressing, and working with care homes to reduce the risk of re-infection.

In a statement a spokesperson said staff who have shown symptoms and their household contacts, as well as families of infected residents have also been supported and signposted to community pharmacists for treatment.

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