Former Model Eaten Alive by Mites in Nursing Home | New Jersey Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

Former Model Eaten Alive by Mites in Nursing Home

How reckless is it when one of your nursing home patients dies from a scabies infestation eleven days after the state department of health is notified? That is precisely what the family of 93-year-old Rebecca Zeni plans to find out, as they have filed a lawsuit claiming a LaFayette, GA nursing home is culpable for damages for the pain and suffering of their loved one.

“I don’t understand how you can allow a human being to suffer needlessly,” said Family representative Mike Prieto.¹

Her family says Zeni was the embodiment of the American dream. She worked at a naval yard during World War II. There are also pictures circulating on the Internet of her when she did some modeling in New York. From the looks of some of them you could easily think she was a 1930s and 40s movie starlet, like Marlene Dietrich or Greta Garbo. She even worked at a Chicago television station for a time.

Details and Allegations Surrounding the Tragic Death of Rebecca Zeni

The following details and allegations surrounding the tragic death of Rebecca Zeni were gathered from recent news reports:

  • One of Lafayette, Georgia’s 11Alive investigative reporters claims the woman was found eaten alive by a scabies infestation back in 2015.
  • In the 11Alive report, a forensic pathologist alleges that there may have been hundreds of millions of parasitic mites that devoured Zeni over the course of several months.
  • The coroner’s report from an autopsy shows that the cause of death was “septicemia due to crusted scabies.”
  • Scabies is a skin condition caused by burrowing parasitic mites.
  • Georgia’s Department of Public Health (DPH) was notified numerous times about the scabies outbreak, but allegedly never inspected the facility. Instead of inspecting the facility, a DPH employee email the facility a manual on how to treat scabies.
  • According to one DPH spokesperson, the agency isn’t required to inspect nursing homes that report scabies outbreaks. However, it is normal procedure for the DPH to notify the Georgia’s Department of Community Health (DCH), which does perform inspections of scabies outbreaks at nursing homes. Unfortunately, no notification was reported to the DCH.
  • Georgia has reported 13 scabies outbreaks since 2015.
  • The family has a pending lawsuit against the nursing facility.
  • Records show Zeni’s daughter moved her into the nursing home back in 2010, because she was suffering from dementia.
  • Zeni died approximately 11 days after the outbreak was reported.

How Do Mites Choose a Host?

If a family member comes down with a parasitic mite infestation, it can be difficult to diagnose because they are so small they can’t be seen with the human eye. The following is more information about parasitic mites and how they choose certain hosts:

  • Parasitic mites are invisible to the human eye because they are translucent and about the size of the tip of a pin.
  • Parasitic mites are attracted by pheromones.
  • Mites are resilient in their defense and produce proteins that help block our own bodies’ immune defense system. They’ve also evolved to the point that they are resistant to pesticides.
  • Mites can hide just about anywhere: inside books, inside walls, and even on our pets.
  • Humans can get rid of mites by bathing, cleaning the facility, and using pesticides.
  • People who raise chickens and don’t treat their coup for mites are very susceptible to them.

Contact an Experienced New Jersey Nursing Home Abuse Attorney at Maggiano, Digirolamo, Lizzi P.C.

Having a family member in a nursing home come down with a scabies infestation can be a confusing and scary proposition. Sometimes it’s nearly impossible to diagnose. The most important thing you can do is reassure your family member that you love them and that you will help them. If you believe your loved one’s nursing home hasn’t done enough to protect or treat your family member for parasitic mites, then you need to talk with the New Jersey Nursing Home Abuse Attorney at Maggiano, Digirolamo, Lizzi P.C. We have the experience and to help advocate your loved one’s rights.

To find out more about how we can assist you in this matter, call us at (201) 585-9111 or email our firm using the contact form on this page to set up a free initial consultation with one of our lawyers.


1“’Eaten Alive’ | Woman known for beauty suffers horrific death at nursing home” published in 11Alive New, April 2018.