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Workplace Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

If a co-worker is diagnosed with scabies, what precautions must be taken? Should the office be sprayed or fumigated?

Scabies usually is spread by prolonged skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies; persons who have had such contact should be evaluated by a physician and treated if necessary. Scabies mites do not survive more than 2-3 days away from human skin. Spraying or fumigating office or living areas is unnecessary.

However, transmission can occur even after brief skin-to-skin contact, such as a handshake, with a person who has crusted (Norwegian) scabies. In general, a person who has skin-to-skin contact with a person who has crusted scabies would be considered a good candidate for treatment.

To determine when prophylactic treatment should be given to reduce the risk of transmission, early consultation should be sought with a health care provider who understands: 1) the type of scabies (i.e. non-crusted vs crusted) to which a person has been exposed; 2) the degree and duration of skin exposure that a person has had to the infested patient; 3) whether the exposure occurred before or after the patient was treated for scabies; and, 4) whether the exposed person works in an environment where he/she would be likely to expose other people during the asymptomatic incubation period. For example, a nurse or caretaker who works in a nursing home or hospital often would be treated prophylactically to reduce the risk of further scabies transmission in the facility

For information about scabies and its prevention, contact the appropriate state and/or local health department.

 

We would like to create workplace guidelines in case an employee is diagnosed with scabies. Can CDC provide the rules and regulations for this?

CDC is not a regulatory agency and does not develop or enforce rules and regulations for scabies. For information about local public health rules and regulations pertaining to the workplace, contact the appropriate state and/or local health department.

For information about scabies in institutional settings, see Institutional Settings.

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When can I return to work if I am diagnosed with scabies?

Scabies usually is spread by prolonged skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies. Scabies sometimes also can be spread by contact with items such as clothing, bedding, or towels that have been used by a person with scabies, but such spread is very uncommon, with the exception of crusted scabies. Persons with crusted scabies should be considered highly contagious and appropriate isolation procedures should be used to protect other persons from becoming infested.

In general, a person diagnosed with scabies could return to work once treatment is begun. CDC recommends contacting the appropriate local and state health department for guidance pertaining to any workplace restrictions for persons with scabies.

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When can I return to work if I am a health care provider who has been diagnosed with scabies and my job requires skin-to-skin contact with patients?

Scabies usually is spread by prolonged skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies. Scabies sometimes also can be spread by contact with items such as clothing, bedding, or towels that have been used by a person with scabies, but such spread is very uncommon, with the exception of crusted scabies. Persons with crusted scabies should be considered highly contagious and appropriate isolation procedures should be used to protect other persons from becoming infested.

In general, a person diagnosed with scabies could return to work once treatment is begun. CDC recommends contacting the appropriate local and state health department for guidance pertaining to any workplace restrictions for persons with scabies.

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In order for me to return to work, my employer requires me to have a note from my doctor saying I am no longer infested with scabies. Is this normal?

Scabies usually is spread by prolonged skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies. Scabies sometimes also can be spread by contact with items such as clothing, bedding, or towels that have been used by a person with scabies, but such spread is very uncommon, with the exception of crusted scabies. Persons with crusted scabies should be considered highly contagious and appropriate isolation procedures should be used to protect other persons from becoming infested.

CDC recommends contacting the appropriate local and state health department for guidance pertaining to any workplace restrictions for persons with scabies.

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Can I get scabies from sharing an office chair or cubicle that is used by a person diagnosed with scabies?

Scabies usually is spread by prolonged skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies. Scabies sometimes also can be spread by contact with items such as clothing, bedding, or towels that have been used by a person with scabies, but such spread is very uncommon, with the exception of crusted scabies. Persons with crusted scabies should be considered highly contagious and appropriate isolation procedures should be used to protect other persons from becoming infested.

Getting scabies from an office chair or cubicle that is used by a person with scabies is very unlikely, unless the infested person has crusted scabies. If the person does not have crusted scabies, avoidance of prolonged skin-to-skin contact with the infested person and simple vacuuming of the infested person’s furniture, rugs, and carpeting should prevent any spread.

If the infested person has crusted scabies, he/she should be considered highly contagious for others and appropriate isolation measure should be used to prevent spread. See Institutional Settings. CDC recommends contacting the appropriate local and state health department for guidance pertaining to any workplace restrictions for persons with scabies.

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  • Page last reviewed: July 19, 2013
  • Page last updated: July 19, 2013
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