SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) – The Valley Transportation Authority is grappling with an outbreak of scabies, a parasitic skin infection that’s sickened four bus drivers and forced the transit agency to pull a dozen buses out of service.
I’m scared now,” said passenger Amanda Serrano as she boarded the #22 bus in Mountain View. “Scabies is something serious. I don’t want to get infected.”
The VTA says a driver reported being diagnosed with scabies over the weekend. Since then, three other drivers have contracted the skin infection. Scabies is caused by mites, microscopic insects that burrow under the skin and lay eggs.
“We have hired an exterminator to clean all 130 buses. They’re going to vacuum the cloth seats and then wipe down any hard surfaces with diluted bleach,” VTA Spokesperson Brandi Childress said.
Childress says 12 buses from routes 22, 522, 55 and 88 were immediately taken out of service because they had come in contact the infected drivers.
“The mites will not live long off their hosts,” said Santa Clara County Vector Control Science and Technology Manager Noor Tietze.
Tietze says the mites typically require skin-to-skin contact to transfer from one person to another. The infection results in a red, itchy rash that appears four to six weeks after exposure. Scabies is treatable and people who fear they may have been exposed should visit a doctor.