As many as 40 pupils at School 33 on Elk Street are infected with scabies, a minor illness that involves mites burrowing into the skin and causing itching and irritation.
The outbreak began in the middle of last week, when a half-dozen pupils came in contract with an infected child who does not attend the school, said district spokesman Andrew Maddigan. The district sent a letter home to parents last week after most of those children were diagnosed with scabies and followed up this week by bringing in five nurses to screen the entire student population. The school has 530 pupils, who generally range in age from four to 14.
Maddigan said up to 40 cases have been diagnosed at School 33 and two cases have been diagnosed at Harbor Heights School 4, a neighboring school located on South Park Avenue in the Old First Ward.
Scabies is easily treated with a prescription cream or shampoo that kills the mites within a day. Scabies, if left untreated, causes intense itching, as the mites burrow into skin or body hair (not head hair) and continue to lay eggs.