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Mutated Super-Lice Found in Texas

Posted by on 17 Sep, 2015

'Tis The Season

As students are settling into the new school year, some unwanted critters might be doing the same. The regrouping of students in the classroom causes more than just school supplies to fly off the shelf. Manufacturers of head lice treatments gear up before the back-to-school season to ensure that retail outlets have plenty of lice and nit removal kits for sale. Even with the shipping of additional kits, it’s not uncommon to find an empty shelf.  Parents will try just about anything to get rid of the annoying insects.

Scientists Find Resistant Lice in Numerous States

Unfortunately, in 25 states, these over-the-counter kits may have little to no impact on a lice infestation. Scientists have recently reported that in more than two-dozen states, including Texas, lice populations have mutated and developed resistance to pesticides found in drug store lice treatments. These mutated super-lice refuse to die with typical treatment shampoos.

The researchers presented their work at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society. “We are the first group to collect lice samples from a large number of populations across the U.S.,” says 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.”

Pyrethroids are a family of insecticides that are commonly used indoors and outdoors to control mosquitoes and other insects. This group of insecticides includes permethrin, the active ingredient in some of the most common lice treatments sold at drug stores. Because the super-lice are resistant to this chemical, Yoon has advised parents whose children have head lice to skip over-the-counter treatments and go straight to a medical provider for a prescription that doesn’t contain permethrin.

Do You Think Your Child May Have Lice?

Lice are tiny insects that infect the scalp and cause miserable itching. They lay eggs called “nits” which look like tiny white specks stuck to the hair. Many people will mistake a nit for simple dandruff, but during these back-to-school months, parents should pay close attention to any flecks in the hair. While dandruff falls off pretty easily, a nit has to be slid down the hair shaft and pulled off. If you find the specks are pretty uniform, close to the scalp, and difficult to brush off, it’s quite possible an infestation is present.

The sooner lice and nits are discovered and treated, the less of a nuisance they can become! Lice are easily spread by close contact with an infected person or by sharing personal items such as hats, combs, brushes, towels, and bedding. It’s not uncommon for a whole group of siblings to become infected.

Benadryl may be used to reduce the itching caused by lice. All personal head wear, scarves, coats, bed linens and towels should be treated by machine-washing in hot water. Dry on the hot cycle of the dryer for at least 20 minutes. Any clothing, bed linen or stuffed animals that cannot be washed this way should be dry cleaned or sealed in a plastic bag for 2 weeks. Lice will suffocate and die during this time.  Combs, brushes, barrettes, hair ties and curlers may be treated in Lysol or rubbing alcohol for 2 hours or by boiling in water for 5-10 minutes. Vacuum all rugs, carpets and mattresses that were used while an infection is present.

Help Is Near at Urgent Clinics Medical Care

Urgent Clinics Medical Care is staffed with experienced and friendly healthcare professionals that understand the turmoil lice can cause. Just walk into any of our convenient locations in the Houston area including Pearland, Champions, The Woodlands and 3 locations in League City: Creekside, Marina Bay and Tuscan Lakes. We will provide you with quick treatment and the appropriate protocol to help you eradicate your lice problem fast!

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