WHAT HAPPENS IF SCABIES IS LEFT UNTREATED?
If untreated, scabies can lead to a number of more serious health problems later on in life, like kidney failure and/or rheumatic heart fever. Scratching the sores can lead to the opening of skin which allows Streptococcal A bacteria to enter. It's this bacteria that can then lead to kidney failure and rheumatic heart fever. Repeated episodes of rheumatic heart fever increases the likelihood of developing rheumatic heart disease later in life. Indigenous people in the Northern Territory of Australia have the highest documented incidents of rheumatic heart fever and rheumatic heart disease in the world (Menzies School of Health Research, 2013).
Downstream consequences of scabies make up a significant proportion of premature mortality in Indigenous people, adding to the 10-17 year life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.