It causes a terrible itch, red blotches and blisters on the skin: the itch mite. The tiny mite first began plotting its comeback in 2019, primarily laying its eggs in the skin of students, who change their sheets less frequently. This year the number of students with scabies increases again.

Four times as much scabies

According to data provided by the Nivel institute for health services research, the first week of this month saw a number of young people aged between 15 and 24 equivalent to nearly 150 out of 100,000 inhabitants visit their GPs across the Netherlands for scabies treatment. That is four times as much as in the end of August.

The number of students suffering from scabies is not known, nor are there any figures for the number of patients in Rotterdam. This is due to the fact that scabies is not a disease that GPs have to report to the Municipal Public Health Services (GGD), says a spokesperson for GGD Rotterdam-Rijnmond.

Schurft-scabies-mijt-Femke Legué
Image credit: Femke Legué

Rotterdam students

In order to gain more insight into the situation of Rotterdam students, researchers from the Erasmus MC and GGD Rotterdam-Rijnmond have recently initiated a questionnaire survey. “We want to know how big the problem is among students and how long they suffer from scabies”, says Wilma Stolk, an assistant professor of Public Health at Erasmus MC, who works at the GGD two days a week. Some students even struggle with scabies for six months, according to the researcher.


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The researchers are focusing their efforts on two groups: students who have had scabies in the past and students who may have contracted it. “We want to know what students do when they have scabies or have been in contact with someone who has the disease”, says Stolk. “On the basis of that information the GGD wants to improve the scabies education for students.”

The survey is being carried in partnership with GGD Hollands Midden in Leiden, which means that students in Leiden also form a large part of the study. Stolk: “However, all students in university or higher professional education are free to complete the questionnaire.”

The questionnaire for the study is available here.