The Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility near Ypsilanti, Michigan, said this week it plans to treat its 2,000 inmates for scabies, according to a local report.
The prison will be closed to visitors from Tuesday to Friday of next week as inmates are treated, the Detroit Free Press reported, citing Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Gautz.
The treatment plan comes roughly a year after several prisoners began to complain of an itchy skin rash, which officials previously claimed was not caused by scabies. Initial skin samples collected by doctors came back negative for the condition, the Detroit Free Press reported. But positive results began to occur shortly after Christmas.
So far, 39 women have tested positive for scabies — caused by the human itch mite that “burrows into the upper layer of skin” and lays eggs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — while more than 200 others have complained about skin rashes.
“This is an unusual event, but we want to solve this, and this is the best way the experts say to do it,” Gautz said, according to the publication.
“People may be carrying it and have no symptoms, and have no idea, so it’s best to treat everyone,” he added.
Common symptoms of the condition include “intense itching and a pimple-like skin rash,” according to the CDC.
“The scabies mite usually is spread by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies,” the health agency added, noting it spreads easily where “close body and skin contact is frequent” like in nursing homes or prisons.
The mites can live on a person for a month or two if left untreated, according to the health agency. It is possible to get rid of the scabies mites through scabicides — products prescribed by a doctor that will kill the mites and their eggs.