Prospective Surveillance of Primary Healthcare Presentations for Scabies and Bacterial Skin Infections in Fiji, 2018-2019.

24 May 2021
Thean LJ, Romani L, Engelman D, Jenney A, Wand H, Mani J, Paka J, Devi R, Sahukhan A, Kama M, Tuicakau M, Kado J, Carvalho N, Whitfeld M, Kaldor J, Steer AC


Scabies, impetigo, and other skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs) are highly prevalent in many tropical, low-middle income settings, but information regarding their burden of disease is scarce. We conducted a surveillance of presentations of scabies and SSTIs, including impetigo, abscesses, cellulitis, and severe SSTI, to primary health facilities in Fiji. We established a monthly reporting system over the course of 50 weeks (July 2018-June 2019) for scabies and SSTIs at all 42 public primary health facilities in the Northern Division of Fiji (population, ≈131,914). For each case, information was collected regarding demographics, diagnosis, and treatment. There were 13,736 individual primary healthcare presentations with scabies, SSTI, or both (108.3 presentations per 1000 person-years; 95% confidence interval [CI], 106.6-110 presentations). The incidence was higher for males than for females (incidence rate ratio [IRR], 1.15; 95% CI, 1.11-1.19). Children younger than 5 years had the highest incidence among all age groups (339.1 per 1000 person-years). The incidence was higher among the iTaukei (indigenous) population (159.9 per 1000 person-years) compared with Fijians of Indian descent (30.1 per 1000 person-years; IRR, 5.32; 95% CI, 5.03-5.61). Abscesses had the highest incidence (63.5 per 1,000 person-years), followed by scabies (28.7 per 1,000 person-years) and impetigo (21.6 per 1,000 person-years). Scabies and SSTIs impose a substantial burden in Fiji and represent a high incidence of primary health presentations in this population. The incidence in low-middle income settings is up to 10-times higher than that in high-income settings. New public health strategies and further research are needed to address these conditions.