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The number of people infected with scabies was higher than in previous years at the end of last year and early this year, and while the numbers appear to be stabilizing somewhat, there are still concerns. Experts insist the information is important, among other things, to breaking taboos and making sure people don’t infect each other over and over again.
“It really drives people to despair,” says dermatologist Anime Gallemont. She receives scabies patients at Bravis Hospital in Rosendal, among other places. “They really struggle with this. It’s not just a little itch. They rarely sleep at times. And if you miss something in therapy, you’re back to square one.”
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Since there is no reporting obligation, it is difficult to get a comprehensive picture of the extent of the problem in the Netherlands. Public distribution groups (GGDs) have reported an increase to the Royal Institute of Public Health. “Unfortunately, we have been seeing an increase in scabies in our area since 2015,” says a spokesperson for JJD Hollands Maiden.
Moreover Weekly numbers A general practitioner, compiled by the Nivel Research Institute, is a reference. This indicates that between ten and twenty people out of every 100,000 infected with scabies came to the doctor this year.
Gallimont warns of the “ping-pong effect”. It is essential that someone infected with scabies warns everyone in the area and that these people are treated, otherwise people will continue to infect each other. “You don’t have to warn each other if you have scabies. Often people don’t do that out of shame.”
Although the dermatologist stresses that it’s not just about affected students, this group is at greater risk due to the many social contacts they have, especially if they live in student homes and not everyone is treated at the same time. That’s why RIVM will likely start a campaign targeting students later this year, a spokesperson said. It also expresses concern about the “ping-pong effect”.
Galimont warmly welcomes this campaign. “If you can explain to people that it’s just bad luck to have it, you’re taking it out of the taboo field.”
Neville investigated the number of people aged 15-24 who visit a GP, the blue line being the number in 2022:
There is still a slight increase in the total number of cases each year, and in 2021 and early 2022 there was a huge peak. Gallimont is still surprised by this. “At first, we thought we had a new mite that could jump away, but it was about an increase in the number of people who were secretly in contact with other family members or friends despite the lockdown. And there was definitely an increase in student homes.”
The fact that the numbers are still high is partly due to the fact that people are traveling more again. “Also, young people are more upfront about their lives and have a lot more physical contact. I see that with my teenage kids. They stick together and lend clothes. But businessmen in expensive hotels can also have it.”
A RIVM spokesperson says stories are circulating that a scabies mite mutation is less sensitive to medication. “But this has not yet been proven.” Both GGDs and the Dutch Society of Dermatology and Venereology conduct research on this topic. Gallimont doesn’t care much yet about mite resistance. “We think that most infections don’t go away because the treatment isn’t exactly done, for example because people are using too little of the cream.”
The question is whether the increase in disease in the Netherlands can be halted. Its complete eradication in our country, says Gallemont, is an illusion. “As long as there is globalization, this will continue.” She thinks we just have to get used to being there. “We still have head lice and athlete’s foot too.”
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