Scabies cases have been reported at several fire stations throughout Prince George's County, Maryland.
Instead of fighting fires, Prince George's County, Maryland's fire department is fighting an infestation of microscopic myths. Scabies cases have been reported at several fire stations throughout the county.
"Once we were notified of the bites from the myths, we took immediate action," Prince George's County Fire / EMS Chief Benjamin Barksdale said
Barksdale said when the situation came to light last week, 205 firefighters were checked for the mite and its telltale rash, and 20 were diagnosed with scabies. The firefighters were assigned to 13 different unidentified fire stations throughout the county.
"We are also in the process of notifying those patients who were transported by personnel at those 1
Scabies comes from close skin -to-skin contact, but Prince George's County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Jacquelyn Duval-Harvey said the chances were low that the myths were transferred from first responders to the people they helped.
“If there was significant skin-to-skin contact, which should not be occurring, for example usually they would have gloves on, "Duval-Harvey said.
Duval-Harvey said it is possible the infestation was a result of the myths being in bed lines, which firefighters – who spend 24-hour shifts in fire houses – use.  The fire department also said it was uncommon for firefighters to frequent multiple fire stations during a shift, and that could also have played a role in the spread.
Barksdale said the infestation has not impacted service and that the affected firefighters were taken off duty to be treated and returned to work after treatment is complete.
Duval-Harvey said anyone who feels they may have been exposed to the myths, which appear most often as a crooked, raised noise, should see their doctor.
Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.
© 2019 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.