Four Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority drivers have been confirmed to have scabies, a skin rash caused by a tiny burrowing parasite.
The first driver reported the rash on April 6 and VTA has since confirmed three other reports, according to spokeswoman Brandi Childress. The transit agency has removed 12 buses from operation for cleaning.
Scabies spreads quickly in crowded conditions, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Direct, prolonged skin-to-skin contact can spread the bug.
VTA said no riders have reported scabies, and their current priority is cleaning the affected buses. All four operators said they contracted scabies after being in the driver's seat, not the passenger area.
"This skin irritation is unlikely to be transmitted by merely sitting on a bus or being near a person with it," VTA officials said in a statement.
Buses will be vacuumed, steam-cleaned and wiped down with diluted bleach. The affected routes are lines 22, which runs from the Palo Alto Transit Center to Eastridge Transit Center in San Jose; 522, a limited bus service similar to Line 22; 55, which runs from De Anza College in Cupertino to California's Great America amusement park in Santa Clara; and 88, which runs from the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs hospital to Middlefield Road and Colorado Avenue. VTA officials said chemical treatment is not necessary in this case, but they've hired an exterminator to oversee cleaning.
"This is an added measure of precaution to make sure that our employees and our public have no reason to worry," VTA officials said. Public areas at the agency's North Division in Mountain View will receive extra cleaning, as well as 130 buses at the location.
The agency doesn't yet know the origin of the scabies. Service will not be impacted by the cleaning.