ST. GABRIEL — State corrections authorities identified during the past two weeks more than 120 inmates housed in two state prisons who are presumed to have contracted scabies infections, a spokeswoman said Friday.
There have been 75 presumed scabies infections at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, and another 54 suspected infections at C. Paul Phelps Correctional Center in DeQuincy, said Pam Laborde, spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections.
Scabies is a contagious skin infection caused when microscopic human itch mites burrow into the upper layer of the skin and lay eggs, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s website.
Common symptoms include intense itching and a pimplelike skin rash, the website says.
The infection is usually spread by prolonged skin-to-skin contact and can spread rapidly in nursing homes and prisons where close body contact is frequent, the website says.
“It’s not prudent to test every person with signs or symptoms, so we’ve been treating most suspected cases as if they are confirmed cases,” Laborde said.
Staff at Elayn Hunt canceled visiting hours at the prison last weekend out of caution, she said.
The 2,100-inmate Hunt Correctional Center serves as an intake facility for the entire state prison system, she said.
When appropriate, inmates suspected of having the infection are secluded and given medication, she said.
Personnel also clean housing areas and wash and dry clothing and bedding at high heat settings to kill any mites, she said.
Laborde said the situation is under control and only sporadic cases have popped up since Monday.
Visitation is expected to go on as normal this weekend, she said.