A number of asylum seekers on the ship in Velsen-Noord have scabies, it turns out. Yet it is anything but a cause for concern for the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA). It is more common, because people on the run have often lived in ‘less hygienic conditions’. That also immediately ensures that it will most likely not be the last, according to the COA.

    The affected people have been quarantined on the ship Silja Europa since the scab was discovered. The other residents are aware of the infectious disease, but there is no panic on the ship, a COA spokesperson said. “People are not put there without guidance. They are always warned about diseases.”

    The cruiseferry can accommodate 1,200 people, arriving there since it opened on Monday 100 asylum seekers every day to the cruise ferry. Scabies is a regular occurrence in asylum seekers’ centers and it now affects a “handful” of people, the spokesperson said. The disease is under control and so far has not spread further.

    Symptoms not clear until late

    Scabies causes severe itching, due to small animals that dig tunnels in the skin and lay eggs there.

    Asylum seekers are probably already infected in their country of origin or en route, but they do not realize this because symptoms only start weeks later. As a result, it can also happen more often that people are infected on the ship. In the overcrowded application center in Ter Apel the disease is also prevalent, although it is difficult to combat there because of the poor hygiene. The COA always asks asylum seekers about itching complaints when they register.

    The disease can be transmitted through skin contact for more than 15 minutes or through bedding, clothing or stuffed animals. The affected persons have been given medication and personal items are being cleaned.