Tags: super | head | lice | resistant | pyrethroids

Super Lice: What You Need to Know

Image: Super Lice: What You Need to Know
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By    |   Tuesday, 25 Aug 2015 02:45 PM



Kids are heading back to school and scientists and health officials are warning parents about super lice, mutated versions of head lice. The mutated bugs, which have been spotted in 30 states, are resistant to traditional over-the-counter treatments.

Head lice are small, wingless insects that live on the human scalp, feeding on small amounts of blood. They look and act like regular head lice, but they are resistant to pyrethroids, a family of insecticides used to control mosquitoes and other insects. It includes permethrin, the active ingredient used in non-prescription treatments for head lice.

The American Chemical Society (ACS) collected samples of head lice from across the nation. "We are the first group to collect lice samples from a large number of populations across the U.S.," said Kyong Yoon, Ph.D. "What we found was that 104 out of the 109 lice populations we tested had high levels of gene mutations, which have been linked to resistance to pyrethroids."

Yoon says the itchy insects can be controlled by using different chemicals, but they may only be available by prescription.

But, Yoon cautions, "If you use a chemical over and over, these little creatures will eventually develop resistance. So we have to think before we use a treatment. The good news is head lice don’t carry disease. They’re more a nuisance than anything else."

Nuisance or not, parents are concerned. Mlive of Kalamazoo, Michigan, offers the following tips:

1. Remain calm. Although a nuisance, head lice do not spread disease.

2. Keep a check on children. Don't wait for them to start scratching, because people usually don't become sensitive until four to six weeks after an infestation begins.

3. Don't misdiagnose. The CDC says the most accurate diagnosis is made by spotting a live nymph or adult bug on the scalp or hair. Go here for the CDC's advice on how to treat head lice.

4. Get a prescription. Since such a large percentage of lice have mutated, Yoon advices parents to skip over-the-counter treatments and ask their pediatrician for a non-permethrin prescription.

5. Keep kids in school.
Although school policies differ, most officials agree that once treatment begins, there's no reason for children to miss school.

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Kids are heading back to school and scientists and health officials are warning parents about super lice, mutated versions of head lice. The mutated bugs, which have been spotted in 30 states, are resistant to traditional over-the-counter treatments. Head lice are small,...
super, head, lice, resistant, pyrethroids
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2015-45-25
Tuesday, 25 Aug 2015 02:45 PM
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