SAN ANTONIO – The outbreak of scabies that began before Easter in the Harlandale Independent School District now has grown from 26 cases in a handful of schools to 40 cases, including three staff members, at 10 campuses.
Leslie Garza, the district's spokeswoman, provided the latest breakdown Wednesday afternoon:
- Terrell Wells MS - 19
- McCollum HS - 2
- Carroll Bell ES - 6
- Harlandale MS - 5
- Frank Tejeda Academy - 1
- Rayburn ES - 1
- Harlandale HS - 3
- Adams ES - 1
- Columbia Heights ES - 1
- Wright ES - 1
However, Garza pointed out, "More than half of these cases are siblings (or) family-related."
Caused by tiny scabies mites, Dr. Suhaib Haq, with University Health System, said, "It's spread by close skin-to-skin contact for a prolonged period of time."
He said it's also often due to sharing clothes, towels or linens, prompting the need to wash those items in hot water and dry them at 122 degrees for 10 minutes to kill the mites and their eggs.
Haq also said he suggests repeating the process a week later to eliminate the last of the mite eggs.
He and Dr. Hugo Rojas, the district's medical director, said the skin condition can be very irritating, causing severe itching and even lesions.
But Garza said at least now, several local private pharmacies are willing to help families cover the cost of the medicated lotion needed to treat scabies.
She said there's even a government program between CommuniCare health clinics and Walgreen's.
"The average price for this treatment is about $85, which can be a lot for some of our families," Garza said.
Yet Rojas said it is vital for entire families to do their part.
"You must treat the family. If we do not treat the family members, this is a lost cause," Rojas said.
The doctors said the medicine must be applied once from the neck down as directed, and then again in two weeks.
"That is the way for not having it recurring again and again and kids getting it again and again, needing the treatment again," Haq said.
They said despite the increase in cases, there is no cause for alarm.
Rojas said scabies is probably less common than head lice.
He said the problem will never be eradicated, but it can be controlled.
Rojas said, "It isn't a South Side problem. It isn't a socio-economic problem. This is citywide."