Kona Community Hospital Managing Scabies Outbreak

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Kona Community Hospital. Courtesy photo.

Kona Community Hospital (KCH) reports they are currently experiencing an outbreak of scabies, a common infection that spreads from person to person by prolonged skin to skin contact. Signs and symptoms include itching, rash and lesions.

The scabies outbreak was confirmed on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018, when a number of individuals reported that they were experiencing similar symptoms.

Upon confirmation of the outbreak, hospital Infection Prevention Department immediately began hospital-wide infection containment protocol per hospital policies. Individuals with potential exposure to scabies were notified and treated. At the onset of the outbreak, Lisa Downing, RN-BSN, infection prevention director at KCH, was in close contact with the Department of Health. Although scabies is not a reportable disease to the Department of Health, Downing contacted the DOH to ensure that all necessary steps to contain and mitigate the outbreak were being implemented. The DOH has been very supportive.


All staff were notified of the situation immediately and provided with education specific to scabies. Those who were potentially exposed have been in continued communication with the hospitals Infection Prevention Department.

The hospital stated the following in a release:

“Our decision to decline comment on the number of cases of confirmed exposure, or potential exposure at this time is two-fold. First, at KCH, we’re committed to patient and employee privacy. The size of our employee and patient populations could make it difficult to ensure privacy if any numbers were to be released at this point. Second, it could take 6–8 weeks for us to have an accurate number of confirmed cases. To ensure that scabies are eradicated from KCH, our surveillance will be ongoing for that timeframe.

Our Infection Prevention Department, clinical staff, Environmental Services Department and Hospital leadership are taking all precautions to protect patients, visitors and staff from potential exposure to scabies.

We understand that community members are concerned about exposure to scabies. Scabies is caused by a mite which burrows under the skin causing itching, rash and lesions. It can be transmitted from person to person with direct skin to skin contact. It is treatable and is not life threatening. Concerned community members who would like to learn more about scabies can find comprehensive information on the Hawai‘i State Department of Health website.

At Kona Community Hospital, we are confident our community can trust the care they will receive at our hospital. We’re dedicated to providing the best care possible to each and every patient we treat.”


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