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Why is scabies spreading in Germany?
If the skin is burning, itchy and covered with pin-sized blisters, reddened nodules or pustules, the scabies mites could be up to mischief. The tiny arachnids particularly like to nest between the fingers and toes, on the wrist, ankle, under the armpits, on the elbows, on the nipples and on the genitals. A skin expert reports the striking increase in scabies in Germany in recent years.
Professor Dr. Cord Sunderkötter is the director of the Clinic for Dermatology and Venereology at the University Hospital Halle. At the 50th conference of the German Dermatological Society (DDG), which recently took place in Berlin, the expert informed about possible reasons for the increase in scabies. Experts suspect that a drug-resistant form is behind the increased number of illnesses.
Enigmatic increase in dross cases
As the experts at DDG report, the diagnosis of scabies has been strikingly frequent in recent years. However, since the scab is not a notifiable disease, there is no reliable data on how big the increase is. According to the experts, the scabies mite finds good conditions, especially where there is poor hygiene and many people live together in a confined space. Such conditions are rarely encountered in Germany. How then is the spread of the parasites explained?
Risk group: people with changing sex partners
"A group of experts has worked out possible causes, none of which has been proven so far," explains the DDG. A risk factor for the transmission is, for example, frequent sexual intercourse with changing partners (promiscuity). As the skin experts at the DDG were able to record an increasing number of sexual diseases, this could also have an impact on the spread of scabies.
Children as an underestimated source of infection
"Children are also an underestimated source of infection," emphasize the DDG experts. The disease tends to be diagnosed more frequently in children than in adolescents and adults. In addition, they often have more mites and are often treated insufficiently. In addition, children seek more intensive physical contact, which makes it easier for the scabies mites to spread. "In order to verify such causal relationships, however, complex epidemiological studies are necessary," explains Professor Dr. Sünderkötter in a press release from the DDG.
Experts suspect drug resistance
However, the skin specialists not only saw an increase in the number of illnesses, there were also an increasing number of cases in which the medicines for the treatment of scabies, known as anti-cabiosa, failed. The mite's growing insensitivity to the anti-cabiosum has also been observed in other regions of the world. For example, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reports in an FAQ on the scabies of two Australian patients with scabies who had been treated with the active substance unsuccessfully several dozen times. Usually, however, only one or a maximum of two applications are required to kill the mites.
Every tenth therapy against scabies is unsuccessful
Professor Dr. Sünderkötter sees three possible explanations for the lack of therapeutic success. On the one hand, there could be an incorrect use of the drug, on the other hand, those affected could have become infected again after the treatment, since there was no therapy with close contacts. Increasing resistance to anti-cabiosa is also a possible cause. So far, however, there is no evidence. According to the RKI, one in ten treatments for scabies currently fail on average. (vb)