Mystery Solved: Attack origin of Advanced Norweigen Scabies – A possible danger on shopping cart handles!

First, to note, I must be very careful here for legal reasons, by not naming the business herein where I have no doubt it has happened 3 times so far, but if wrong could be very bad for them and me. Instead, I can indirectly make some revelations, and recommendations for how others can avoid this significant health threat.

You need only Google Search for “shopping cart handles dirty” to find out what is already well known, and why stores do provide disinfecting cart handle wipes near the carts at the entrance of stores. From now on, I’ll use them, or wear gloves when handling the carts.

Shopping trolleys contain more dirt and grime than average public toilet, study finds!

  • “Which of the following surfaces is most likely to be contaminated with dangerous bacteria—a diaper changing table…playground equipment…a shopping cart handle…ATM buttons…or the handrail on an escalator? Most people would have said the changing table…and been wrong. Correct answer: The shopping cart handle.”
  • “The finding comes from researchers at the Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science at The University of Arizona in Tucson. Previous studies had shown that seating children in shopping carts increases their risk for infection with Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria, each of which can lead to abdominal pain and diarrhea that last for a week (or longer in people with weakened immune systems). This time, researchers set out to see just how dirty shopping cart seats and handles really are. To do that, they swabbed the handles and seats of 85 shopping carts randomly selected from parking lots of grocery stores in San Francisco…Los Angeles…Atlanta…Portland, Oregon…and Sioux City, Iowa, and tested the samples they had gathered.”
  • “For details on what they found, we turned to Charles Gerba, PhD, professor of environmental microbiology at The University of Tucson and lead researcher on the study. He explained that coliform bacteria (common in soil, on vegetation and in the feces of animals) were present in high amounts on 72% of the carts. Some of the carts were further examined for Escherichia coli (E. coli), a specific species of coliform present in the lower intestines of all warm-blooded mammals and responsible for many serious tainted-food-related illnesses, and it was present on half of them. In fact, the researchers pointed out that bacteria levels on the carts were greater than what is typically found in public restrooms and other public places.”

So let there be no doubts about just how dangerous shopping cart handles can be.

There is worse. Much worse.

It is reasonable to make comparisons between Bedbugs and Scabies. Even so, the advanced kind of Scabies is much worse than an invasion of Bedbugs – I experienced a couple of those so I know.

What are the odds of me using a shopping cart just previously used by a person who has the advanced kind of Scabies – transferred to the cart handle, then to me as the next person to use it? The odds are astronomical. Even so, there is another pathway.

First time I was infected was the day I’d been paid and was then out doing errands and shopping at several stores. If I caught them while at one of those places then I had no guess which one. I also suspected an abandoned cat that visits me – I feed it, jumped up on my lap – I discovered it to have fleas. I suspected the apartments complex laundry room. A clean shirt I put on instantly caused severe itching. I mainly suspected a swarm of unusual flying insects I got caught in while out riding my bicycle and got bit or stung in a few places. It wasn’t until I researched the several developing symptoms that I matched those symptoms not just to normal Scabies but the advanced kind. The nests look like bruises on my back, covered by their crusted ridges, surrounded by a red rash that feels and looks like a severe sunburn. It all begins as clusters of tiny white bites or blisters in several places – in my case mainly on my upper back.

I’d gone to an MD who prescribed Permethrin in cream form, normally used to treat the normal kind. She did not know how to treat the advanced kind. No one does – by which I mean different doctors claim different cures, and what works for one patient usually does not work for other patients. Prescription Permethrin in cream form failed because it can’t penetrate the crusted ridges of the advanced kind of Scabies.

Suddenly, I remembered seeing “Permethrin” on a label of another product. It is the active ingredient of Hot Shot bug spray for killing lice, ticks, and fleas! No prescription needed. Only $3 for a can. Caution notice warns it can kill cats, is not harmful to dogs, and can cause a rash on humans. I sprayed it on the Scabies nests on my back. In spray form, mist then liquid on surface, it penetrated the crusted ridges – nests – and killed them. Even so, I was so severely and extensively infected by then that it took several treatments, using the spray twice per day – one for day and one for night. Eventually, total victory. It made sense in a funny odd way. Use bug spray to kill bugs. After all, I don’t get something from the medicine cabinet to kill roaches in the kitchen when there is an invasion. I use Raid Max. So this is use of chemical warfare to fight biological warfare of the Scabies.

They can’t live more than 3 days away from human blood. So that’s the time limit for them to live on various surfaces, where they wait for the next victim to come along and have contact with that surface. A week went by with no symptoms, so I knew I was free of them. Then the next shipping trip. That time, I only went to two stores. I began to feel burning, stinging, and some itching on the way back home. I had caught them again. Is it possible I caught them while shopping at one of the two stores? I wasn’t sure. Then within 3 days using the spray I had them beat again. Yesterday, I went out to only one store. On my way back I began to feel burning, stinging, and mild itching on my left hand – top and between fingers. Little clusters of tiny white bites or blisters – attributed to the advanced kind of Scabies. That was the only place on my body – I’d caught them before they could spread further, so one treatment with the bug spray killed them.

What did my left hand come into contact with? I’d worn new winter gloves while riding my bicycle over to the grocery store. My bare hands pushing a shopping cart and handling purchases there. Even so, what was different about that store compared to all other stores I’ve shopped at is how the checkout is handled. At most stores the customer gets a cart, dies the shopping – loading up the cart, then unloads the cart when paying. The clerk ringing up the purchases puts them in plastic bags, to be put in the cart for the customer to transport them usually out to a car. The clerk has no contact with the cart during that process. A store employee may collect all of the carts from the parking lot to be returned to inside the store. It is possible those employees could have Advanced Scabies, get them on the cart handles . . . but I’ve noticed all or most wear gloves while collecting the carts so they don’t catch germs from the cart handles. The clerks do not wear gloves. I’ve never seen them use the disinfectant wipes on the handles of the carts. A clerk could infect the cart handles, and in turn a customer then having contact with them. At the store I shopped at, a loaded cart is turned over to a clerk at checkout. It is the clerk not the customer who empties the cart while ringing up the purchases, then to sack the purchases and push the cart forward for the customer to collect to transport the purchases usually out to a car. There is no other way I could have caught them again, and that the new attack began on my left hand indicates it very likely – unless the mites were on a product in the store I handled, that was previously handled by another customer or store employee who has the Advanced Scabies.

I dare not report my suspicion to that store. Doing so could result in them taking legal action against me as a defensive reaction, instead of investigating the problem and handling it in a reasonable way. Therefore, my plan is to simply be aware of the possibility shopping cart  handles are the source, and to use the disinfectant wipes or wear gloves when using them.

Scabies, known as the seven-year itch, is a contagious skin infestation by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei. The most common symptoms are severe itchiness and a pimple-like rash. Occasionally tiny burrows may be seen in the skin.

Crusted Scabies aka Advanced Scabies aka Norweigen Scabies is a more severe form of the disease. It typically only occurs in those with a poor immune system and people may have millions of mites, making them much more contagious. In these cases spread of infection may occur during brief contact or via contaminated objects. The mite is very small and usually not directly visible. Diagnosis is based on the signs and symptoms. The advanced kind can result in deep pain, with burning and stinging sensations, not just itching.

Symptoms can be present across most of the body or just certain areas such as the wrists, between fingers, or along the waistline.

A number of medications are available to treat those infected, including Permethrin.

The elderly and people with an impaired immune system, such as HIV, cancer, or those on immunosuppressive medications, are susceptible to crusted scabies (formerly called Norwegian scabies). On those with weaker immune systems, the host becomes a more fertile breeding ground for the mites, which spread over the host’s body, except the face. Sufferers of crusted scabies exhibit scaly rashes, slight itching, and thick crusts of skin that contain thousands of mites. Such areas make eradication of mites particularly difficult, as the crusts protect the mites from topical miticides/scabicides – including prescription Permethrin in cream form – can’t penetrate the crusted ridges, necessitating prolonged treatment of those areas.

Scabies is contagious and can be contracted through prolonged physical contact with an infested person. This includes sexual intercourse, although a majority of cases are acquired through other forms of skin-to-skin contact. Less commonly, scabies infestation can happen through the sharing of clothes, towels, and bedding, but this is not a major mode of transmission; individual mites can only survive for two to three days, at most, away from human skin. Healthcare workers are at risk of contracting scabies from patients, because they may be in extended contact with them.

Considering instructions with a list of things in the home needed to be cleaned to help prevent reinfection of the victim, I have no doubt the mites can briefly live on shopping cart handles – coming from an infected person – so the next person to use the cart without cleaning the handle can catch them – if not wearing gloves.

Reported by Jim Lantern
LANTERN TIMEGLASS JOURNAL
Wednesday morning, 7 December 2016

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