Kona Community Hospital shut down today due to a severe outbreak of scabies, a highly contagious skin condition caused by tiny burrowing mites that cause extreme itching, rash and lesions.
Hospital leadership made the decision to “temporarily close all patient units” as an “aggressive preventive measure to protect patients and staff from potential exposure to infection.”
“We understand that community members are concerned about exposure to scabies. It is treatable and is not life threatening,” spokeswoman Judy Donovan said in a news release, adding that hospital employees are informing patients about the temporary closure.
The hospital has made exceptions for those in the obstetrics unit and for pediatric surgery patients. Outpatient services also remain open.
Health officials confirmed scabies at the facility Nov. 19 after a number of individuals reported similar symptoms. They would not disclose how many people have been infected by scabies, which can spread quickly from person to person through direct skin-to-skin contact. Officials also wouldn’t comment on the source of the outbreak.
The microscopic mites burrow and lay eggs in the outer layers of the skin and can live there for months if untreated.
Kona Hospital officials said they will update the community on the situation on Friday. For more information, click here.