Objective: To implement an intervention program for reducing the prevalence of scabies in a large Northern Territory Aboriginal community.
Design: Prospective, longitudinal screening, intervention and follow-up study.
Participants and setting: All children aged 5 years and under in one of the largest Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, total population, approximately 2,200 (95% Indigenous).
Main outcome measures: A decrease in prevalence of scabies, infected scabies and non-scabies pyoderma over seven months.
Results: The number of children aged 5 years and under screened intially and at the three follow-up screenings ranged from 201 to 242 (more than 98% of those eligible on each occasion). The prevalences of scabies, infected scabies and non-scabies pyoderma before intervention were 35%, 12% and 11%, respectively. At 6 weeks postintervention these had decreased to 3%, 1% and 4%, respectively; low prevalences were maintained at four and seven months.
Conclusions: This intervention, which was based on community motivation, involvement and control, successfully reduced the prevalence of scabies. Continuing community health education and regular screening will be crucial in controlling scabies. The methods and results of this study may be helpful in developing a coordinated program for all remote Aboriginal communities in the area.