Young people and students most affected

Biggest outbreak of scabies in years

Photo: DUB

Last week, young people were diagnosed with scabies three times more often than other age groups, according to research institute Nivel. This infectious but harmless condition is caused by mites that burrow and lay eggs in the skin, leading to relentless itching.

According to the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) students easily fall prey to scabies because of “poor hygiene conditions in combination with high-risk behaviour”. Many of them do not change their bed linen for weeks on end, live in close proximity to one another and have physical contact more frequently. All of This makes it easy for mites to spread.

Almost doubled
It seems that getting rid of the itchy parasites will not be an easy matter. In 2016, there were an average of 1.8 reports per week among the Dutch population but that figure has now almost doubled. The number of reports has risen particularly fast in the past year.

Nivel researcher Mariëtte Hooiveld has no explanation for the outbreak. It is, however, clear that the skin condition occurs less frequently in the summer. “Most of the reports are received in the autumn and winter.”