Scabies outbreak closes some patient units at Hawaii hospital

A severe scabies outbreak prompted the recent shutdown of some patients units at Kealakekua, Hawaii-based Kona Community Hospital, according to The Star Advertiser.

Hospital leadership chose to "temporarily close all patient units" on Dec. 5 to protect patients and staff from infection.

Exceptions were made for the obstetrics unit for pediatric surgery patients and outpatient services, which remain open.

Initial cases of the scabies outbreak were reported Nov. 27, affecting 50 hospital employees. The hospital did not comment on the number of cases. Scabies is caused by mites burrowing into the outer layers of the skin where they lay eggs. The insects can live there for months if left untreated. There is no immunity to scabies.

"We understand that community members are concerned about exposure to scabies. It is treatable and is not life-threatening," Judy Donovan, spokesperson for Kona Community Hospital, said in a release cited by The Star Advertiser.

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