Skin disease
[Representative Image]Creative Commons
  • Former model Rebecca Zeni died in 2015 due to scabies infestation.
  • Scabies is a contagious skin condition caused by parasitic mites.
  • The nursing home, where Zeni was admitted, asked their staff to be careful about touching her hand over fears that it might fall off her body.

An investigation into the death of a former model, Rebecca Zeni, revealed that she died due to scabies infestation while she was under the care of a Georgia nursing home in 2015.

According to 11 Alive, Zeni was eaten alive by parasitic mites over several months during her stay at the Shepherds Hill Nursing Home in LaFayette.

After she died in 2015 due to the contagious skin disease at the nursing home, the autopsy report revealed her cause of death, which cited "septicemia due to crusted scabies."

What is scabies?

According to American Academy of Dermatology, "A mite causes this common skin condition. Called the human itch mite, this eight-legged bug is so small that you cannot see it on the skin. People get scabies when the mite burrows into the top layer of skin to live and feed."

Zeni, who was a former model in New York City, also used to work at a naval yard during World War II. She had also worked for a television station in Chicago.

In 2010, she was admitted to the Georgia nursing home by her daughter as she had been suffering from dementia.

Pruitt Health, which operates the nursing home, was sued by Zeni's family. Mike Prieto and Stephen Chance are the two attorneys who are taking care of the case on their behalf.

During an interaction with 11 Alive, Chance claimed that the nursing home staffs were asked to be very careful while touching Zeni's hand.

"There was a conversation at this nursing home with a healthcare provider about being careful about touching Ms. Zeni's hand for fear that it might fall off her body," Chance said.

Prieto also added, "I don't understand how you can allow a human being to suffer needlessly."

Pictures of Zeni's condition before her death emerged, which showed that her hands blackened and dangerously infected by the parasites.

Dr. Kris Sperry, a forensic pathologist, who conducted the autopsy on Zeni's body, said 11 Alive, "This is one of the most horrendous things I've ever seen in my career as a forensic pathologist. Having seen what I've seen with Ms. Zeni, I think that is frankly a good characterization. I would seriously consider calling this a homicide by neglect."