LAKEWOOD — Several cases of suspected scabies at a healthcare facility are being investigated by state and county health officials.

Six possible cases of the skin infestation are being investigated at the Fountain View Care Center on River Avenue in Lakewood were confirmed by state Department of Health spokeswoman Nicole Kirgan, who did not disclose the number of reported cases. The first case was reported on Feb. 8.

Scabies can be difficult to confirm as the scabies mite must be seen under microscope and treatment often begins without a confirmation. A sample of the area suspected to be infected must be scraped or biopsied.

If a scraping or biopsy is done and the scabies mite is not seen, a patient is still not cleared. If you see the mites you can be sure of the diagnosis, but if you don’t it doesn’t mean that there are no scabies. The Lakewood cases have been treated without a definite confirmation.

Kirgan said that after cases are confirmed, the department works to clean and disinfect rooms, clothing, linens, and to appropriately treat or provide prophylaxis to residents.

Microscopic scabies. (CDC)
Scabies on finger webs. (Los Angeles County Health Dept.)

Scabies occur when microscopic mites burrows into the upper layer of the skin where it lives and lays its eggs, according to the state Department of Health website. Scabies mites do not transmit disease but the burrowing and feeding process causes irritation and allergic responses.

Any person who has direct skin-to-skin contact with someone who has scabies may be at risk for infestation. The most common symptom is itching, especially at night or after a hot shower. A red, itchy rash is usually visible.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that people infected with scabies are contagious even though symptoms can take four to six weeks to show. Scratching the infected area can cause skin sores, which can be infected by bacteria.

Scabies on wrist. (Saratoga County, N.Y. Health Dept.)
Scabies on hand. (CDC)

These burrowing under the skin appear as tiny raised and crooked grayish-white or skin-colored lines on the skin surface and may be difficult to find. The burrows are found most often in the webbing between the fingers, in the skin folds on the wrist, elbow, or knee, and on the penis, breast, or shoulder blades.

The Ocean County Health Department did not immediately return a request for comment.