Scabies hits the U’s ballroom dance club

The skin disease caused the dance club to cancel two practices.

Sarah Nienaber

Quintin Walker was rather disturbed when he found out why his Tuesday and Thursday evening ballroom dance club practice had been cancelled this week.

At least one member of the University of MinnesotaâÄôs Ballroom Dance Club reported a case of scabies early this week, halting the clubâÄôs practice this week and alarming members.

“I was kind of freaked out,” said Walker, a first-year member of the club, which practices in Bierman Field Athletic Building. “You donâÄôt really think about scabies when you are waltzing with someone, and you certainly donâÄôt check their fingers.”

Scabies is a parasite invisible to the naked eye that burrows beneath the skin. When the mite is present in the human body it can produce intense itching in warm areas of the body, especially at night, said David Golden, director of public health and communication at Boynton Health Service.

Scabies is spread through direct skin-to-skin contact. It can be treated using topical ointments prescribed by a doctor, Golden said.

Because it is only spread through direct contact, Golden thinks an outbreak isnâÄôt really a problem.

“We [BHS] typically see about 10 cases a month,” he said.

Jim Turman, director for the University Department of Recreational Sports, said that he couldnâÄôt remember a time that any clubs have been cancelled due to health concerns in his 25 years here on campus âÄî other than taking precautionary measures throughout the influenza concerns last fall.

Locker rooms, exercise equipment and martial arts exercise mats, among other things, are cleaned and disinfected often.

“ItâÄôs as healthy and clean of an environment that youâÄôll find anywhere,” Turman said.

For now, members are being cautious and doing what they can to prevent themselves from contracting scabies.

Walker says he is washing his hands more and doing his best to keep things tidy after the scare.