Epidemiology of scabies

Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2013 Apr;26(2):123-6. doi: 10.1097/QCO.0b013e32835eb851.


Purpose of review: Scabies is a common skin infestation globally, particularly in the developing world. With the launch of the International Alliance for the Control of Scabies (IACS) in 2012, this review aims to present the recent evidence of the current epidemiological situation for scabies across the globe. Mindful of the fact that the downstream complications of scabies infestations, pyoderma, streptococcal glomerulonephritis and subsequent chronic renal impairment and rheumatic fever, have been recognized as being more significant to global health than previously acknowledged, the review focusses also on the epidemiological evidence from developing countries.

Recent findings: Scabies occurrence rates vary in the recent literature from 2.71 per 1000 to 46%. Although it is responsible for larger disease burdens and complications such as pyoderma and renal and heart disease in the tropics, scabies outbreaks in the developed world amongst vulnerable communities and health institutions contribute a significant cost to the health services managing them.

Summary: Scabies remains common across the world, but is such a health issue in the developing world that the suggestion that it be considered a neglected tropical disease is a pertinent one. Standardized diagnostic criteria and even a point-of-care diagnostic test would be a major contribution to the understanding of this epidemic.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Developing Countries / statistics & numerical data*
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Scabies / epidemiology*