Scabies is a condition that results when human itch mites burrow under the skin and bite. It's not just one or two mites that show up either. They lay eggs under the top layer of skin and then it becomes an infestation. The rash is painful and can often become infected. It's not an everyday illness, but there are an estimated 300 million cases worldwide each year. It's treatable, but in people who have a weakened immune system, a more severe form of the disease can develop called "crusted scabies."
Recently a 93-year-old nursing home resident died as a result of scabies. She had developed crusted scabies that turned into septicemia, a blood infection. While this complication is rare, it should be seen as a cautionary tale for nursing home staff and residents as well as anyone who cares for an elderly person or someone with a weakened immune system. It's spread via direct skin to skin contact with an infected person but can also be spread when towels, bed linens or clothing are shared with an infected person.