The management of scabies outbreaks in residential care facilities for the elderly in England: a review of current health protection guidelines

Epidemiol Infect. 2016 Nov;144(15):3121-3130. doi: 10.1017/S0950268816001746.


Commonly thought of as a disease of poverty and overcrowding in resource-poor settings globally, scabies is also an important public health issue in residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFE) in high-income countries such as the UK. We compared and contrasted current local Health Protection Team (HPT) guidelines for the management of scabies outbreaks in RCFE throughout England. We performed content analysis on 20 guidelines, and used this to create a quantitative report of their variation in key dimensions. Although the guidelines were generally consistent on issues such as the treatment protocols for individual patients, there was substantial variation in their recommendations regarding the prophylactic treatment of contacts, infection control measures and the roles and responsibilities of individual stakeholders. Most guidelines did not adequately address the logistical challenges associated with mass treatment in this setting. We conclude that the heterogeneous nature of the guidelines reviewed is an argument in favour of national guidelines being produced.

Keywords: Elderly medicine; infectious disease control; outbreaks; residential care; scabies.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology*
  • Cross Infection / parasitology
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control*
  • England / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Residential Facilities*
  • Scabies / epidemiology*
  • Scabies / parasitology
  • Scabies / prevention & control*