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An outbreak of scabies occurred in a ward of a local hospital in Barbastro (Huesca, Spain), between November 2002 and January 2003. The outbreak was linked to a patient infested with mites when he was admitted to the ward on 1 November 2002. The first case had onset of symptoms on 5 November and the last one on 5 January 2003. Seventeen cases were reported: 11 healthcare workers (HCWs) and six patients.The outbreak was attributed to a delay in diagnosis, and lack of individual protection measures by caregivers. The use of short-sleeved coats is an habitual risk practice in this ward. Contact with fomites, animals, infested clothes or intimate contact with people other than their usual partners were dismissed as risk factors for the infestation. The different groups of caregivers in this ward presented a similar risk of becoming infested, and the mechanism of transmission was probably person to person contact. The implementation of specific guidelines for scabies prevention and treatment, as well as an active surveillance system, were fundamental to the control of this outbreak.


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