Medical: Scabies Reported Along Southern Virginia AT

Pictured: Scabies on Upper Left Leg of Diagnosed Hiker

Update (6/3/2017 19:40:00): More reports are coming in of similar bug sites and rashes from up to five other thru-hikers and section hikers. 

As many as three new cases of scabies have drawn concern among thru-hikers as this skin-to-skin contagious mite is fast-spreading and easily confused with other skin irritants like poison ivy; abundant in the area. One hiker, to be unnamed, discussed that they have been itching non-stop for the last four days in the areas of the legs, thighs, buttocks, back, and neck (see picture). This hiker has revealed that a consult with medical professionals confirmed the skin bumps and painful irritation to be the mite and was prescribed a low dose of permethrin cream to apply over the body. (As the writer is not a medical professional, anyone exhibiting bumps or itching, especially agitated at night, should seek medical consultation.)

Unlike Poison Ivy, Scabies Needs to Be Treated.

The hikers have expressed that they would be notifying hostels and hotels where they stayed. However, due to the 2-4 week timeline for signs and symptoms to appear, the location from which the mite was picked up is difficult to assess. Best estimates put the time and place of contact along the Appalachian Trail between Damascus and Bland, Virginia. However, Trail Days in Damascus overlaps through this time period as well. At this time, two of the hikers have sought medical attention and are awaiting results. 

Michael “Medicine Man” B., 2017 thru-hiker, says he’s heard of oak mites from Missouri and Kansas. Thousands of people contracted the mites after falling from trees. As for spreading on the AT, he says, “Close skin-to-skin contact is needed from what I have read.” 

Some hikers aren’t worried. Jeff “Duckfart” E. is a 2017 thru-hiker and says, “I have yet to put on bug spray. I usually stay near shelters, but I tent.”

Quick Tips

  • Hikers should be aware of their sleeping environment in high-occupancy areas such as hostels, hotels and shelters
  • Avoid direct skin-to-skin contact with those diagnosed with scabies or anyone with large bumps, red patches or skin irritation
  • If you have a persistent itch that last longer than seven days, seek out medical advice and notify the community
  • If infected, the American Academy of Dermatology suggests you have to do more than treat the skin or take a pill. You will need to wash clothes, bedding, and towels to get rid of mites that may have fallen off your skin. 

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Comments 3

  • Michael Sweet : Jun 4th


  • Deborah J. Gracie : Jun 4th

    Wait !? Hikers in Missouri and Kansas are falling out of trees ? What kind of trails do they have in those two states ?


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