Hilo veterans home hit by scabies outbreak

  • STEPHANIE SALMONS/Tribune-Herald A sign on the front desk at Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home asks visitors to refrain from visiting the facility due to public health concerns. The facility is working to address a scabies outbreak.

Visitors to the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo are being limited as the facility works to address an outbreak of scabies.

Administrator David Pettijohn confirmed in a written statement that Yukio Okutsu, which is managed by Avalon Health Care, has experienced an outbreak of scabies and is working to mitigate and resolve the matter for residents and staff.

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“Our leadership and Hilo Medical Center’s leadership are coordinating closely with the state Department of Health to address the situation,” the statement reads. “We are following all of the health department’s recommendations to ensure it is resolved as quickly as possible. Our residents, staff, and partners in health care have been informed. The health of our veterans and staff continues to be our utmost concern and primary focus.”

Efforts to resolve the situation include limiting visitors, temporarily closing the Adult Day Health, consulting with a DOH epidemiology specialist, and daily meetings with a Centers for Disease Control-affiliated prevention consultant and/or Avalon senior clinical leadership for ongoing support.

According to the CDC, scabies is an infestation of the skin by the human itch mite. Microscopic scabies mites burrow into the upper layer of the skin where it lives and lays its eggs.

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The most common symptoms of scabies are intense itching and a pimple-like skin rash, the CDC says.

Scabies can spread rapidly under crowded conditions where close body and skin contact is frequent. Institutions such as nursing homes, extended-care facilities, and prisons are often sites of scabies outbreaks, according to the CDC.

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