There has been a surge in cases of scabies and measles – both highly contagious – as well as rickets and scurvy, conditions we thought had been eradicated. Are public health cuts to blame?

Before Covid-19, Dr Farzana Hussain says, it was rare for her to see a case of scabies at her GP surgery in Newham, east London, but since the pandemic, the number of patients with the parasitic skin infection has increased dramatically.

“By the time a patient comes to me for advice, everyone in the family has it, including all the children,” she says. “The itch is maddening. People demand immediate treatment.”

Transmitted by tiny mites that burrow and lay eggs under the skin, scabies is a disease associated with squalor and overcrowding. Spread by close personal contact, it is so infectious that during the Victorian period, workhouses maintained separate “itch” wards so those infested with the mites could be segregated and treated before being allowed into the workhouse proper.

According to the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), scabies cases are now running at three per 100,000 of the population in England, double the five-year seasonal average. That translates into approximately 2,000 cases of scabies a year. However, in the north, the worst affected region of England, GPs are seeing rates as high as six per 100,000.

  • @kilinrax
    4 months ago


    I’m not sure if this is a typo on Jacob William Rees-Mogg, or George R.R. Martin

    • @Meron35
      34 months ago

      Jeorge R R Martin