There is a dearth of data on scabies from Ghana. In September 2019, local health authorities in the East Mamprusi district of northern Ghana received reports of scabies from many parts of the district. Due to on-going reports of more cases, an assessment team visited the communities to assess the effect of the earlier individual treatment on the outbreak. The assessment team furthermore aimed to contribute to the data on scabies burden in Ghana and to demonstrate the use of the International Alliance for the Control of Scabies (IACS) diagnostic tool in a field survey in a resource limited setting.
This was a cross sectional study. Demographic information and medical history was collected on all participants using a REDCap questionnaire. A standardised skin examination of exposed regions of the body was performed on all participants. Scabies was diagnosed based on the criteria of the International Alliance for the Control of Scabies (IACS). Participants were mostly female (61.5%) and had a median age of 18.8 years (IQR 13-25). Two hundred out of 283 (71%) of participants had scabies with most (47%) presenting with moderate disease. Impetigo was found in 22% of participants with scabies and 10.8% of those without scabies [RR 2.27 (95% CI 1.21-4.27)]. 119 participants who received scabies treatment in the past months still had clinical evidence of the disease. 97% of participants reported a recent scabies contact. Scabies was commoner in participants 16 years [RR 3.06 (95% CI 1.73-5.45)].
The prevalence of scabies was extremely high. The lack of a systematic approach to scabies treatment led to recurrence and ongoing community spread. The IACS criteria was useful in this outbreak assessment in Ghana. Alternative strategies such as Mass drug administration may be required to contain outbreaks early in such settings.
Scabies, recently categorised as a Neglected Tropical Disease by the WHO is caused by infestation with Sarcoptes scabiei and is characterised by intense pruritus and rash that typically involves the genitalia and the web spaces of the fingers and toes. It has a large global burden and is associated with significant morbidity and socio-economic burden. Secondary bacterial infections following scabies can lead to significant complications including chronic kidney disease from glomerulonephritis and possibly rheumatic heart disease. An outbreak of scabies was reported in Ghana's East Mamprusi district in September 2019. Despite earlier treatment of individual cases, scabies prevalence was 71%. About 19% of participants had impetigo which was mostly mild in severity. Absence of a systematic approach to treat scabies led to recurrence and ongoing community spread. The recently published IACS criteria for diagnosing scabies proved useful in this outbreak assessment in Ghana. Alternative strategies such as Mass drug administration may be required to contain outbreaks in such settings.