Scabies outbreak hits Blantyre City

By Chisomo Phiri

The Blantyre District Health Office says there is an outbreak of scabies in some parts of the commercial city of Blantyre.

In a statement signed by the Director of Health and Social Services Gift Kawalazira, the office says June to December this year, it has registered 255 cases with sixty-nine (69) cases from South Lunzu, nine(9) cases from Chichiri Prison, seventeen (17)case from Kadidi, twenty (20) case from Makata, nine(9) cases from Zingwangwa, eight ( 8) cases from Lighthouse, Five ( 5) cases from Dziwe, seventeen (17) cases from Mpemba, sixty-one (61) cases from Gateway, two ( 2) cases from Chiwembe and thirty-eight ( 38) from Mobile Clinic.

The office says scabies is a highly contagious skin disease caused by parasites that live and move in the skin causing small blisters and papules and that it is associated with the poor personal hygiene.
” The common presenting signs and symptoms of scabies include; severe itching especially at night that causes scratch marks, lesions between fingers, on the hand, feet, flexor sides of wrists and armpits. For Children, mostly affected parts are palms, sores head and neck”, reads the statement in part.

Health activist Maziko Matemba

The statement further assures the general public that the office has adequate supplies of medicines( scabicides) to ensure that everyone presenting with the disease signs and symptoms consult the nearest community health worker or health facility.
” The office is also alert and conducting active surveillance in addition to sensitising communities on adherence to to preventative measures in order to control the spread of the outbreak in the district. These preventative measures include adhering to personal hygiene practices, such as taking a bath everyday, avoid sharing of clothes, beddings, linen, towels, and avoid congested places as the disease spreads through contact.
” Institutions that deal with large groups of people like schools, churches, mosques, etc must be on high alert on monitoring of the signs she symptoms and report any suspected cases to Health Authorities without delay”, reads the statement.

In addition to the preventative measures outlined by the Office, Health activist Maziko Matemba says there is a need for the district to enact and use community health structures, Village health Committees, community action groups including Health centre advisory committees clear information on the disease and also run scabies elimination campaigns by encouraging communities at group and personal level to follow hygiene practices.
” If we are to combat the rapid spread of this disease, let us engage the communities in scabies elimination campaigns. We have community Volunteers who can also support in sending awareness messages in their respective communities”, says Matemba.

Matemba says there is also a need for a government to reduce the costs of soap and water in support of good hygiene practices.