Can you get scabies from public transportation?
Yes, you can get scabies from public transportation but it is usually very rare to do so since the primary way through which scabies spread is through prolonged skin-to-skin contact. However in some special cases, it can spread through contact with contaminated items like the sits in public transportation.
Scabies is a skin disease caused by an infestation of Sarcoptes scabiei (a type of mite) also known as the human itch mite on the skin. It usually manifests as a rash with severe itching.
The itching is known to be more severe at night when the mites are most active. A severe case of scabies is known to appear as a track of burrows on the skin.
This is because the female mites tunnel under the surface of the skin to lay eggs, creating many tiny burrows on the skin.
The mites that cause scabies can live anywhere on the body but prefer areas with folds of skin such as between the fingers. Scabies is highly contagious and can easily be spread by an infected person.
Though it is highly contagious, the usual way through which scabies spread is by prolonged skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies.
So, getting scabies from public transportation and other public items like office chairs, cubicles, etc, is not a regular thing since contact is usually brief, although it is possible.
Aside from prolonged skin to skin contact with an infected person, sometimes scabies also can be spread by other means through contact with items such as clothing, bedding, chairs, etc that have been used by a person with scabies.
This is where the concern of scabies being spread through public transportation comes in.
But contacting scabies through this way is very uncommon as it requires a rare case of scabies known as crusted scabies for the mites to spread this way.
Crusted scabies, also known as Norwegian scabies is a severe form of scabies that manifest in people with a weak immune system, elderly, disabled or debilitated.
As the name suggests, people with crusted scabies infestation have thick crusts of skin that contain large numbers of scabies mites and eggs.
This makes them very contagious and can spread scabies through skin contact as well as contamination of items they come in contact with.
The mites need a human host to feed, survive and multiply. However, they can survive without human contact for up to 48-72 hours.
This explains how a person that has a case of crusted scabies is able to spread it through contamination of items.
They carry a lot of mites and mite eggs which can easily be left on seats, items of clothings, etc. this can be picked up by a healthy person that comes in contact with the item later.
For this reason, people with a case of crusted scabies should be considered highly contagious and appropriate isolation procedures should be used to protect other persons from becoming infested.
What are the signs and symptoms of scabies infestation?
The most common and easily noticeable symptom of scabies is the itchy pimple-like rash and the intense itching, which is more intense at night time, at places where the mites burrow.
This symptoms of scabies is as a result of hypersensitivity reaction (allergy) of the skin to mites and their feces.
It should be noted that the itching can still continue for several weeks after treatment, regardless of the absence of the mites and their eggs. So itching might not be an accurate tell of a scabies infection.
The mites can live on any part of the body, but they are usually found at parts such as the between the fingers, the folds of the wrist, armpit, elbow and waist. They are also found on the penιs, nιpples and buttocks.
In young children and infants, the head, face, neck, palms, and soles are also spots where it can be seen.
Burrow track appearance on the skin is another sign of a scabies infestation. The female mites creates this grayish-white or skin-colored lines on the skin surface as they tunnel under the skin to lay eggs.
How soon after infestation do symptoms of scabies begin?
For people who have had a scabies infestation before, it takes about 1-4 days for symptoms to begin.
However, if a person has never had scabies before, symptoms may take 4-8 weeks before they begin to develop.
It should be noted that while an infected person may not yet be showing symptoms of scabies, he/she can still spread it to others through skin-to-skin contact.
Can you get scabies from a public toilet seat?
You can get scabies from a public toilet seat, but it is highly unlikely for you to contract scabies this way. Scabies most of the time do not spread through quick contact such as handshakes or hugs with an infected person.
It requires prolonged skin-to-skin contact with someone who is infected for it to spread to you. A regular infected person, yet to show any symptoms, has a little above 10-15 mites on the entire body.
The likelihood of the mites transferring to a public toilet sit while an infested person is using it is very unlikely.
These mites are very tiny and love the skin, so they would rather hang in there in their burrows than crawl unto a surface where they will not survive.
Can scabies be spread by swimming in a public pool?
It is very unlikely for scabies to spread in a public pool. The scabies mites need a human host at all times.
If someone infested with scabies enters a pool, the mites will prefer their home inside burrows on the skin to the cold water. So it is rare for the mites to crawl from under wet skin and float to another person.
There may be chances that the scabies mite might fall of the skin into the pool water and be picked up by a healthy person using the pool as well.
While this might be possible, for a normal case of scabies with only about 10-15 scabies mites present on an infested person; the chances of getting scabies this way is very slim.
A case of crusted Scabies can be spread in a public swimming pool as it has a high transmission risk because of the large number of mites on the body.
In reality, this is very unlikely as people who have crusted Scabies are usually kept in isolated places for treatment and you won’t find them in public swimming pools.