According to ABC News on Wednesday, lice resistant to shampoos and common treatments have landed on the growing list of super bugs.
In schools across the country, kids are becoming infected with a new breed of "super lice." The little pests have developed harder exo-skeletons and lay eggs at different times, so they are not easily killed by the over-the-counter lice shampoo.
"They call it 'super' lice, because it's kind of like antibiotics to humans when a product is misused," said Maria Botham, owner of the Hair Fairies, a children's hair salon for lice removal. "[When] overused on a bug. You're building up a pretty strong bug, hence 'super' lice."
A session at the Hair Fairies costs about $300.
As bacteria and other pests evolve to evade medications, infections that were once easily cured with a few pills or creams can become chronic or even deadly.
According to Dr. Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization, "Things as common as strep throat or a child's scratched knee could once again kill."
Approximately 12 million American children become infected with the tiny pests each year. Left alone, lice eggs hatch in 7 to 10 days. And in 21, they're laying eggs of their own.
As lice become more "immune" to normal lice shampoos, parents are turning to experts, such as Botham, who pick the lice from hair by hand for a price. Some experts say today's super lice have been able to alter their egg-laying and hatching cycles to avoid conventional treatment schedules. Their exoskeletons may also be thicker than generations past.
According to WebMD, there are other common misconceptions about lice:
- Myth: Pets spread lice. "Animals are not known to carry head lice nor to transmit them to people," Dr. Andrew Bonwit, a pediatric infectious disease specialist said.
- Myth: Sharing personal items spreads lice. Bonwit said "Transmission of lice seems to occur only by direct head-to-head contact from one person to another."
- Myth: Kids with lice should be sent home from school immediately. "The American Academy of Pediatrics does not endorse 'no-nit' policies that exclude children from school because nits are present," Bonwit noted. "In fact, even the presence of mature head lice is not considered a valid reason to exclude children, only a cause for prompt referral to the physician for treatment."
- Myth: Lice carry disease. "Head lice do not transmit serious infectious disease," Bonwit explained.
The KOMO Problem Solvers has learned that some insurance plans will pay for lice removal. Check with your provider, and you might also be able to use your flexible spending plan.
Emily Sutherlin is also the Pregnancy Examiner.
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