Scabies: New Future for a Neglected Disease

Shelley Walton, D KEMP, Deborah Holt, Bart Currie

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Scabies is a disease of global proportions in both human and animal populations, resulting from infestation of the skin with the "itch" mite Sarcoptes scabiei. Despite the availability of effective chemotherapy the intensely itching lesions engender significant morbidity primarily due to secondary sepsis and post-infective complications. Some patients experience an extreme form of the disease, crusted scabies, in which many hundreds of mites may infest the skin causing severe crusting and hyperkeratosis. Overcrowded living conditions and poverty have been identified as significant confounding factors in transmission of the mite in humans. Control is hindered by difficulties with diagnosis, the cost of treatment, evidence for emerging resistance and lack of effective vaccines. Historically research on scabies has been extremely limited because of the difficulty in obtaining sufficient quantities of the organism. Recent molecular approaches have enabled considerable advances in the study of population genetics and transmission dynamics of S. scabiei. However, the most exciting and promising development is the potential exploitation of newly available data from S. scabiei cDNA libraries and EST projects. Ultimately this knowledge may aid early identification of disease, novel forms of chemotherapy, vaccine development and new treatment possibilities for this important but neglected parasite.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Parasitology
EditorsJR Baker, R Muller, D Rollinson
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherAcademic Press
Number of pages68
ISBN (Print)9780123984579
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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