It has been about two years since 93-year-old Rebecca Zeni passed away while under the care of a nursing home facility in Georgia. Although it is rather common for an elderly individual to pass away while living in a nursing home as these facilities are often where many spend their remaining years of life, Zeni died from something other than old age or the usual illness. Apparently, Zeni was eaten alive by parasitic mites over several months or even possibly years, according to 11 Alive and her death was attributed to a scabies infestation.
What is scabies?
Scabies is an infestation of tiny mites called Sarcoptes scabiei that nestle under the outer layer of the human skin. These mites “burrow and lay eggs inside the skin” which then leads to “relentless itching and an angry rash,” according to webmd.com. As you can imagine, it is a rather uncomfortable condition to develop, especially for someone who is older and cannot provide the necessary treatment to help relieve the itching and get rid of the scabies. When a person becomes infested with scabies, it can take four to six weeks for symptoms to show which might include:
- Intense itching, especially at night.
- A pimple-like rash.
- Scales or blisters.
- Sores caused by scratching.
When scabies is not treated effectively, the mites will continue to produce and can even spread to others through prolonged skin-to-skin contact.
The family of the deceased 93-year-old was adamant that photos be shared for the public to view, and you can see these on 11 Alive. An autopsy report showed that the cause of death was due to “septicemia due to crusted scabies.” The news source was able to speak with forensic pathologist Dr. Kris Sperry, who is the former chief medical examiner at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and he was shocked at what he saw in the autopsy. Sperry said that he has conducted more than 6,000 autopsies and has supervised more than 80,000 others but this case by far “the most horrendous things” he had ever seen in his career as a forensic pathologist.
Sperry also said that he would “seriously consider calling this a homicide by neglect.” Why? Well, aside from the fact that staff members were warned to not touch Zeni’s hands as they worried they might fall off, records were also obtained from the Georgia Department of Public Health that showed there was a scabies outbreak in the facility in 2013 and 2015. In June 2015, a report showed that 35 residents and staff were exposed to scabies and instead of a health department employee coming out to inspect Shephard Hills which is owned by Pruitt Health, they “emailed a manual to the facility on how to treat scabies.” Apparently, not much was done as Zeni passed away 11 days later.
After Zeni passed away, her surviving family filed suit against the facility, however, it is still pending after two years.
A lawsuit was eventually filed by Zeni’s surviving family and is still pending even after two years have passed for the death of a woman who once was “known for her beauty.” Zeni’s family said their mother “lived the American Dream.” She worked in a naval yard during World War II, modeled in New York City, and worked at a TV station in Chicago.
As you can imagine, this GA nursing home resident must have suffered greatly based on the images we see which depict just how serious her scabies condition was. And the only way justice can be served for this abuse and neglect is for the family to remain persistent and push for a favorable outcome in their nursing home neglect case.
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