Scabies continues to advance despite measures

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The number of people who visited their GP because of scabies is still higher than the previous two years, despite the intensified attention and approach. There has also been a slightly increasing trend in the number of patients visiting the GP since the end of June. This is evident from the weekly figures from the Netherlands Institute for Healthcare Research (Nivel).

There has been a gradual increase in infections since 2013, with an acceleration since 2021, which is mainly concentrated among young adults. In recent months, general practitioners have seen more than twenty patients with scabies per 100,000 inhabitants every week. Around the same time in 2021, there were ten.

Various measures have already been taken. For example, GGDs in Utrecht, Leiden, Nijmegen and Amsterdam started special scabies consultation hours at the end of last year, the anti-scabies drug ivermectin has been included in the basic package since November and an adjustment was made to the treatment advice of the NHG scabies guideline in April this year. In addition, the GGD region of Utrecht, where scabies is a major problem due to the large number of students, has started using social media.

“Our own research showed that a large part of the problem lies in communication, and in particular in reaching and stimulating awareness among young adults,” says Gaaled Haj Mohammad, infectious disease control doctor in training at GGD region Utrecht.

“Another thing that came up a lot was that it was unclear to many patients which advice they should follow,” says infectious disease control nurse Gert Doornenbal. ‘Advice from general practitioners, pharmacists and GGD appeared to differ.’ Nationally, the provision of information has now been harmonized and centralised. ‘The RIVM step-by-step plan is now leading.’

“Communication with healthcare providers has also improved,” says Haj Mohammad. ‘There is e-learning for healthcare providers and accredited further training for pharmacists and pharmacy assistants. The key message is that we must all provide the same information to both healthcare providers and patients.’

Haj Mohammad does not immediately have an explanation for the increase. ‘Of course you don’t know what would have happened to the number of infections if the measures had not been taken. It is difficult to say whether measures we take can be translated one-on-one into a decrease in infections.’

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