Universities collaborate for improved Indigenous health outcomes

“Scabies is a contagious, parasitic dermatosis caused by the acarine itch mite Scarcoptes scabiei var.hominis, affecting 300 million individuals worldwide each year, including all age groups and social classes. WHO estimates a global prevalence of 0.2-24%. Scabies affect about 6 out of 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia with 13% of children infected at a given point of time but this prevalence varies widely, with seasons, overcrowding and population movement.”

Early this year Associate Professor Pascale Dettwiller et al. published an article in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene which reviewed the current evidence for using tee tree oil to treat human scabies. This article has attracted more than 100 reads in three months according to Research Gate statistics.

Following on from Associate Professor Dettwiller, the team from University of Canberra proposed to trial a new topical formulation of tee tree oil for Indigenous children diagnosed with scabies and that will be less onerous on parents and children for better compliance. They have subsequently secured a grant from the new U Canberra ‘Collaborative Indigenous Research Initiative’ (UC CIRI) Research Grant Scheme 2016-2018 for $100,000.00 after an internal competitive grant process. This fund will be managed by UC and is dedicated to develop research capabilities at UC and in Katherine at Wurli Wurlinjang Health Service where the project will take place.

For more information contact Associate Professor Pascale Dettwiller, Flinders NT Katherine

Publication Details
Therapeutic potential of tea tree oil for scabies: a review. J Thomas, Carson CF, GM Peterson, Walton SF, Hammer K, Naunton M, Davey R, Spelman T, Dettwiller P, Baby KE, Kyle G, Cooper G. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene; 2016: 94(2), 258-266, DOI: 10.4269/ajtmh.14-0515

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Flinders NT