Scabies outbreak at Back of the Yards daycare center

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Dozens of children and staff members of a daycare center in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood are being treated for scabies. (WLS)

Dozens of children and staff members of a daycare center in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood have been or are being treated for a highly-contagious skin infestation called scabies.

The Chicago Health Department is monitoring two outbreaks. The pattern, they said, was that one child showed symptoms of scabies and then a few days later they occurred in more children and adults. In the last two weeks there have been 24 confirmed cases.

Scabies is not life-threatening, but it is very uncomfortable. It is a highly contagious skin infestation of a very small mite that burrows under the skin and causes itchy bumps and blisters.

"Scabies is a reaction to a mite that lives or crawls within the skin," said Dr. Stavonnie S. Patterson, dermatologist.

It creates a red, bump and incredibly itchy rash. For infants and young children, the blisters may appear on the soles of their feet.

"The most common places that we see it is between fingers, sometimes around the bellybutton, underneath the arms, the elbows and knees are pretty common, and then in babies and children, on the bottom of feet," Patterson said. "You're contagious until you've been treated."

"Scabies is an incredibly challenging disease to, to kind of capture," said Sarah Frick, Chicago Commons. "It's carried by human beings, so if someone is exposed to that but they have not yet presented symptoms, they're still contagious."

The Paulo Freire Center West 43rd Street is part of the Chicago Commons organization. The Vice President of External Affairs said they have fully cleaned the center twice and are considering closing to stop the spread. So far they have decided to remain open.

"The health and safety of our families are our number one priority, however we also understand that our parents need to work and they need a place for their kids to go to that's safe, so we're exploring what the next steps will be," Frick said.

Oriana Gomez said her son loves his teachers at the center and she appreciates what the staff is doing to keep the center open.

"We've been told that we have to keep checking their skin, and if they have any bumps not to bring them in, to take them to the doctor," Gomez said. "It's an amazing center, I've never had an issue with the center and it kills me that this is happening."

Olivia, who did not want to share her last name, said she is keeping her daughters away from the center until the scabies outbreak is under control.

"It's disgusting, it's scary, you know. It's something that you don't want to bring to your house. You don't want your children to get infected with it," she said.

Late Monday, the center said it will keep its doors open as scabies is not a life-threatening disease. No new cases have been reported since last Thursday but it could take some time for more cases to be identified. Still, center hopes the cycle of infection will not continue.

Related Topics:
healthday careinfectionChicagoBack of the Yards
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