The number of people with scabies is growing again. The peak is at its highest since early December. Currently, 42 out of 100,000 people suffer from the skin disease, reports research institute Nivel. There are a striking number of infestations among children between zero and four years old in Overijssel.
At the beginning of December, the number of infections per 100,000 people was 44. “We may still exceed that number, but it is difficult to predict,” says Mariëtte Hooiveld, senior researcher at Nivel. According to Hooiveld, it mainly depends on how accurately patients treat the skin disease. “We hope that everyone adheres to the strict treatment and follows exactly.”
The number of people with scabies is much higher than last year around the same time. Then it was 17 per 100,000 people. In the years before, the number fluctuated around 10. The most recent increase shows something striking: a strong increase in the number of patients from zero to four years. This is remarkable, because scabies is most common among young people aged 15 to 24.
According to Hooiveld, this increase can be explained by an outbreak in Overijssel. A young child may have contracted scabies and spread the disease at a preschool. We also see more registrations of scabies in adults in that province.
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The number of patients may not be complete. “Since 2008, there has been no obligation to report if you have scabies in the Netherlands,” explains a spokesman for the RIVM. This means that doctors are not obliged to report cases of scabies and to inform contacts of the patients. That is only the case with scabies, a severe form of the mite.
This makes it difficult to prevent a further outbreak of scabies. That is one of the reasons why the number of people with the skin condition continues to fluctuate.
The exact cause of the current increase is difficult to determine. The shortage of medicines and the costs of treatment may play a role. Although medicines against scabies are reimbursed by health insurance, the costs are first deducted from the deductible. That is a considerable amount for some people.
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