About Human Scabies

Scabies is a skin infestation with the mite sarcoptes scabies, and is often intensely itchy and distressing. Transmission generally occurs by protracted skin-to-skin contact with infested individuals.

Scabies – Causative Organism

  1. Scabies mite burrows into the top layer of the epidermis where the adult female lays eggs
  2. The eggs hatch in 3-4 days and develop into adult mites in 1-2 weeks
  3. After 4–6 weeks the patient develops an allergic reaction to the presence of mite proteins and faeces in the scabies burrow, causing intense itch and rash

Most individuals are infected with 10-15 mites.

The resultant scratching and parasite-induced changes to the local immune response can lead to bacterial infection, with resultant risks of impaired renal function and rheumatic heart diseases. In the outbreak areas in the Amhara region in 2015, the prevalence of scabies was 33.5%.

Data on scabies cases and contacts collected from all zones by district on June 2018 showed 718,597 Cases and 956,017 Contacts.

SNNPR reports 68,000 scabies cases weekly.

  • July 2015: country declared drought and drought-associated public health emergencies
  • September 2015: scabies cases reported in all drought-affected regions
  • 2015/2016: 850,200 cases and contacts treated
  • Prevalence has decreased from 33.4% to less than 2%

    Scabies – Transmission

    Scabies is usually transmitted person-to-person through close skin contact (e.g. living in the same residence) with an infested individual.

    Scabies mites crawl but cannot jump or fly and the condition is not transmitted from animals or due to poor hygiene.

    As there is an asymptomatic period of infestation, transmission may occur before the initially infested person develops symptoms.

    The risk of transmission increases with the level of infestations, with highest risk due to contact with individuals with crusted scabies.

    Transmission due to contact with infested personal items (e.g. clothes and bed linens) is unlikely with common scabies but may be important for individuals with crusted scabies.

    Scabies – Geographical Distribution

    ❖ Scabies occurs worldwide. Over 200 million people worldwide are affected at any one time.

    ❖ Scabies is endemic in many resource-poor tropical countries, with an estimated average prevalence of 5 – 10% in children.

    ❖ Greatest burden in resource-limited settings, where overcrowding increases skin-to-skin transmission and access to treatment is limited

    Scabies – Health and Socio-economic impact  

    • Entire family itches, expose to unprecedented medical expenditure
    • Itching leave scar on the skin which expose social exclusion
    • About 245,924 children found with bacterial super-infection
    • About 24,131 children found to dropout school due to scabies
    • About 25% of the affected individuals are the household breadwinners


Our Vision: To see Ethiopia free of podoconiosis

Our Mission: To coordinate and standardize efforts for the elimination of podoconiosis, to build the capacity of members and other stakeholders, and to support research for evidence based interventions.