WOODSTOCK – Residents and staff at Valley Hi Nursing Home are taking oral and topical medication in the wake of an unknown number of cases of highly contagious Norwegian scabies.
The McHenry County Department of Health was notified by the county-run nursing home June 30 of potential cases of the disease, health department spokeswoman Keri Zaleski said. The disease was confirmed the next day.
Visits have been restricted for symptomatic patients, who are being isolated, and the 128-bed nursing home has not been allowed to admit any more residents until further notice, Zaleski said. The nursing home has put signs at the entrance and informed family members.
The investigation by the health department, which is the lead agency in such cases, is ongoing, Zaleski said.
Norwegian, or crusted, scabies is a severe form of the disease caused by an infestation of the skin by the human itch mite, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People with Norwegian scabies have thick crusts of skin that contain large numbers of mites and their eggs. The disease is spread by both direct skin-to-skin contact and contamination of clothing, bedding and furniture.
Nursing homes, extended-care facilities, prisons and other crowded places where close skin contact is frequent are common sites of scabies outbreaks, according to the CDC. Norwegian scabies is most common with the elderly, the disabled and people with compromised immune systems.
The disease is so contagious that the CDC recommends aggressive measures and prophylaxis with one confirmed case.
All residents and staff finished their first course of prophylaxis for the disease Friday, which consists of an oral medication and applying a cream from the neck down for 12 hours, Zaleski said. The treatment will be repeated in a week.
Valley Hi Administrator Tom Annarella could not be reached for comment late Friday.
The home west of Woodstock employs the equivalent of 136 full-time staff, according to the county’s 2016 budget.