Are “Super lice” for real?

A recent article on CBSNews.com suggests that “Super lice” have been found in Pittsburgh, and the response in the school community there and elsewhere in the United States is to relax the school policies, so that infected children do not have to miss school. Deborah Pontius, the school nurse for Pershing County School District in Lovelock, Nev. is quoted several times. She believes “It’s not infectious, and it’s fairly easy to treat.” She also says that in all likelihood by the time a student is found to have lice in school, s/he has probably already had it for about three weeks to two months, so classmates already would have been exposed. “There’s little additional risk of transmission if the student returns to class for a few hours until the end of the day, when a parent would pick up the child and treat for lice at home.” She doesn’t send lice notes because “It gets out who had lice, and there is no need to panic parents.” She goes further and says “Parents with elementary school -aged kids should check their children’s hair for lice once a week anyway. If they are doing that, then there’s really no need for the notes.”

The article also refers to new policies in Hamilton County, Tenn. as well as California, Florida, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Carolina and elsewhere which state that “Children with untreated lice should go home at the end of the day, be treated and then return to school. This is the recommendation of the Tennessee Department of Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Needless to say, this article received many incensed and incredulous comments. At Advice on Lice, Inc., we strongly believe this is an alarming trend. We are currently collecting specimens for a study at the University of Massachusetts to help determine if “Super lice” or actual resistance to OTC treatments is real. We have always maintained that children with active head lice infestations should not be allowed to stay in school, and we hope the school districts our clients live in will continue to see the need for removal of infected students from the moment of detection until proper treatment and nit removal procedures have been performed.

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