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Where Did Scabies Originate?

By James Mulcahy ; Updated July 27, 2017

The exact origin of the parasite that causes scabies in humans is unknown, but it is thought that the problem has afflicted humans since the days of Ancient Egypt. While dirty or close living can increase the possibility of contracting the disease, it affects all classes of people and is evident on all inhabited continents.

What is Scabies?

According to the Centers for Diseased Control, scabies is an infection of the skin by the human itch mite. This microscopic creature lives and lays eggs in the upper level of the skin. These mites cause red, pimple like rashes that can be very itchy. Scabies is transmitted by skin to skin contact with an infected individual, and many times is a result of sexual activity.

History of Scabies

Scabies has afflicted people for over 2,500 years, according to Stanford University. There are drawings from Ancient Egypt that depict patients suffering from scabies like symptoms, so it is thought that scabies dates back to that time period.

Discovery of Scabies

Scientists first discovered the human itch mite in the 17th Century. Stanford University points out that, before the discovery of the mite, scientists and doctors thought scabies was caused by an imbalance of the humors. The earliest known drawing of the scabies mite is attributed to Giovan Cosimo.

Where Scabies Came From

The exact origins of the human itch mite are unknown, but Stanford University points out that its affected people of every socio-economic status in every corner of the world. Scabies is more likely to affect people who don’t have access to water–as it thrives in dirty conditions. Scabies also is more prevalent in communities with crowded living conditions, as the skin to skin contact is more likely in these circumstances.

Talk to Your Doctor

If you are experiencing the symptoms of scabies or have an unexplained rash, talk to you doctor. He will be able to provide treatment for the condition, and may be able to further inform you about the history of the parasite.

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