Thursday afternoon, Shawnee Public Schools sent out notification via emails and automated phone calls to Shawnee High School parents with information that there has been a few cases of scabies reported at Shawnee High School.

According to the letter by the district's Nurse Coordinator, La Rita Haffey, R.N., MSN.ed, the district was made aware of a few cases and wanted to communicate with parents.

“While the instances have been isolated to a small number of people, we wanted our school community to be aware of the situation,” she said. “We have taken several precautions to ensure we are dealing with the situation proactively. We have been in contact with the CDC and the Pottawatomie County Health Department to ensure we are following all recommendations.”

In her letter, the nurse explains to parents that scabies is a skin condition caused by mites. It commonly leads to intense itching and a pimple-like skin rash. The rash may appear as raised tracts, bumps or blisters. Most common sites of infection on the body are between fingers, wrists, elbows, armpits, waistline, thighs and genitalia. Itching is most intense at night, she adds.

She also notes that scabies is contagious and can spread quickly in areas where there is close physical contact. It is spread through skin-to-skin contact, although symptoms usually take 4-8 weeks to appear after exposure. If a person has had scabies before, symptoms appear after only 1-4 days.

Cherity Pennington, spokeswoman for Shawnee Public Schools, said SHS is working closely with health officials while doing even more deep cleaning at the school.

“We've been doing deep cleaning once a week because of flu season,” she said, adding they are doing that type of cleaning more often.

According to the nurse, scabies should be treated with topical creams that can kill the mites.

“These topical treatments are available by prescription from your healthcare provider. Treatment also is recommended for people who know they have had skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. Bedding and clothing worn or used next to the skin any time during the three days before treatment should be machine washed and dried using the hot water and hot dryer cycles,” the letter reads. “Dry cleaning is also effective. Items that cannot be dry cleaned or laundered can be disinfected by storing in a closed plastic bag for several days to a week. Scabies mites generally do not survive more than 2-3 days away from human skin.”

After a student has been treated with medication prescribed by a healthcare provider, the nurse said the student may return to school; a note with a return date from the healthcare provider is required.

“The health and safety of our students is our first priority, and we want to keep you informed of anything that might affect your child’s health,” she concluded, encouraging parents to contact her with any questions.

Nurse Haffey can be reached via email at: larhaffey@shawnee.k12.ok.us