Scabies outbreak at South Side school prompts warning to parents

CHICAGO -- Two dozen children and teachers are being treated after an outbreak of scabies at a school on the South Side.

The Chicago Commons Paulo Friere Center in the Back of the Yards neighborhood has about 150 kids and at least 14 of them have been diagnosed with scabies. 10 teachers have also been infected. There could be more to come.

School officials say they first learned of a possible scabies outbreak on May 18th.

“That same day, letters were sent home to the parents outlining that their child could possibly have been exposed to scabies, what to look for and as soon as symptoms presented to send their child to the doctor,” says Sarah Frick, who is with the school.

Scabies occurs when mites burrow into the skin and lay eggs causing itchy, red bumps or a rash. It usually spreads by skin to skin contact.

On May 30th another round of kids were diagnosed but the school says no children have shown any new symptoms since last Thursday.

“Anything like lice, chickenpox, scabies, when you’re in a setting where there’s a lot of children, lots of hands touching the same objects these types of things do occur,” Frick said.

Parents say they are happy about the way the center has handled the outbreak. Officials vigorously cleaned everything, including playground equipment and helped parents find doctors if they need it.

Kids who attend the school are between 7 weeks and 5-years-old. Most of the infected kids are between the ages of 3 and 5.

The Dept of Health says it recommends that the center stay open because scabies is not a life threatening disease. Kids who have been diagnosed can return to school 24 hours after getting treatment.