Twenty Prince George’s County firefighters have scabies, a highly contagious condition in which tiny mites burrow under the skin and cause severe itching and rashes, fire and health officials announced Monday. Prince George’s County Fire Chief Ben Barksdale said 205 employees of the department were tested. The 20 firefighters who have scabies work at 13 different fire stations in the county. Barksdale did not say which stations. Barksdale said there would be no impact to service and there is no reason for the public to worry as no firefighters with scabies would be out responding to calls. Scabies is one of several skin conditions that can cause itching and rashes. It is a dermatologic condition caused by sarcoptes scabiei, an eight-legged microscopic mite. Scabies is contagious and can spread very easily from person to person through close physical contact.
As a precaution, the department said it is reaching out to people who may have ad contact with the affected firefighters. Scabies can spread rapidly under crowded conditions where close body contact is frequent, such as nursing homes, extended-care facilities and prisons, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The most common symptoms of scabies are intense itching and a pimple-like skin rash, the CDC says.