Sebring, Florida -- A potential outbreak of scabies is affecting a Highlands County jail where at least one inmate has been diagnosed with the highly-contagious skin disease.
The sheriff's office says on Thursday lab tests confirmed that at least one inmate has scabies, but five others have also been seen by medical staff with complaints of itching and suffering from a skin rash.
Scabies is usually spread by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with a person who has the parasites, according to the CDC. The CDC says prisons, along with nursing homes and extended-care facilities, are places that usually suffer from scabies outbreaks.
The sheriff's office says it is following the treatment guidelines outlined by the CDC and are aggressively attacking the issue.
The entire jail population of about 400 will be provided with an oral medication and all bedding, clothing and housing areas will be treated.
"This is a huge undertaking. An operational plan has been developed and we should have the medication by Friday, Feb. 28. The first round of treatment and preventative sanitation should be completed by Monday, March 3, 2014. A second round of medication is required in two weeks," said Sheriff Susan Benton. "We have consulted with our medical team, an outside dermatologist and the Florida Health Department as well as all published protocols by the CDC. I decided to take the most aggressive approach and treat the entire facility out of an abundance of caution to avoid as much of a potential for cross-contamination as possible."
Any inmate released within the last month and who feels they may have been exposed should consult their physician or the Highlands County Health Department.
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