An elderly former model was 'eaten alive' by scabies mites during an infestation of the parasites at her Georgia nursing home.
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Dementia sufferer Rebecca Zeni, 93, died from ‘septicemia due to crusted scabies’ at the Shepherds Hill Nursing Home in LaFayette in June, 2015.
State health officials were aware of the outbreak of scabies, a microscopic mite which burrows into skin where it lives and lays its eggs, but never launched an investigation, or inspected the nursing home, 11 Alive reported.
Dementia sufferer Rebecca Zeni, 93, (left, covered in scabs and mites after the infestation and right, in her heyday as a model) died from ‘septicemia due to crusted scabies’ at the Shepherds Hill Nursing Home in LaFayette in June, 2015
Zeni’s family placed her in the nursing home in 2010 after she was diagnosed with dementia.
They are now suing Pruitt Health, which runs the nursing home, for neglect.
‘I don’t understand how you can allow a human being to suffer needlessly,’ Mike Prieto, the family’s lawyer, said. It is not clear when the family last visited Zeni in the home.
Horrific photos show Zeni covered in scabs and flaking skin as hundreds of millions of mites lived beneath her top layer of skin.
Horrific photos show Zeni covered in scabs and flaking skin as hundreds of millions of mites lived beneath her top layer of skin
Her hand was blackened, with long, uncut nails and covered in dead skin.
Prieto claims that nursing home staff were told ‘not to touch Zeni’s hand’ over fears ‘it might fall off her body.’
Dr. Kris Sperry, a forensic pathologist, who was asked to look over Zeni’s autopsy report described it as ‘one of the most horrendous things I’ve ever seen in my career as a forensic pathologist.’
He believes that Zeni, once a glamorous model in New York, and who also worked at a TV station in Chicago, suffered a painful death.
‘I would seriously consider calling this a homicide by neglect,’ he said.
Zeni (pictured in an undated photo) was once a glamorous model in New York, and also worked at a TV station in Chicago
Records show that there were at least two outbreaks of scabies at the nursing home, in 2013 and 2015, with 35 residents and staff exposed.
The Georgia Department of Public Health were notified but did not inspect. They instead sent advice to Shepherds Hill on how to treat the infestation.
Zeni, who worked in a naval yard during the Second World War, died on June 2, 2015 – 11 days after the later outbreak.
The department is expected to notify the Georgia Department of Community Health about scabies infestations affecting public buildings such as nursing homes but the community health department had no record of such an alert.
Pruitt Health did not respond to reporters’ requests for a comment.
But in their legal response, they argued they couldn’t be held responsible because they were ‘not a healthcare provider’ and that the death was caused by ‘entities over which (Pruitt) exercised no control’.