According to the World Health Organization (WHO), scabies affect more than 300 million people worldwide each year. In Europe, exact figures are not known but this skin disease is on the rise.
Described for centuries in many different texts, there are millions of cases of scabies around the world each year. However, it remains unknown to the general public and is often wrongly associated with bad hygiene. In actuality, scabies can affect everyone, regardless of age, gender, social class, and ethnicity.
In Europe, the disease is relatively rare, but in recent years there has been an increase in cases. It usually occurs in schools. Scabies is a condition that affects the skin and is caused by a parasite known as the Sarcoptes scabei. The female microscopic mite has the habit of digging furrows in the skin and depositing its eggs, which creates lesions and causes itching.
Nevertheless, human scabies (transmitted between two people) is distinguished from non-human scabies (transmitted by an animal or plant). Non-human scabies is exceptional in that the parasites responsible do not usually evolve in humans. Being less than 0.5 millimeters, the parasite is able to survive a few days outside the human host if conditions are favorable, increasing the contagiousness of the disease.
While scabies can affect individuals anytime of the year, peak contamination periods occur most often in the winter and fall. Repeated physical contact in a community setting increases the risk of transmission of the parasites. Immunocompromised and elderly people are more vulnerable to scabies.