Mention the word head lice and you will hear the parents in the room groan. Talk a little longer and someone is bound to start scratching their head. I seem to have that effect on people. The feeling that overcomes an individual who has had experienced head lice is usually one of stress and frustration. Battling these blood-sucking insects can be laborious, time-consuming and at times, a never-ending nightmare. Summer has come to an end and a new school year has begun. Bring on the teachers, pencils, friendships, books and…head lice?
Female human head louse, Pediculus humanus capitis. (Photo: Gilles San Martin)
Why do the incidences of head lice correlate with the return to school?
Believe it or not, head lice are rarely transmitted in schools. Although cases spike after extended periods away from school such as summer vacation, they are most often transmitted among close friends, cousins, siblings and other relatives during events such as sleepovers, camps, and extended visits. The discovery occurs when children return to school, but seldom does it get spread on school property*.
*Transmission activities that may occur that can be the source of transmission in childcare, preschool and elementary school.
Cindy Lange-Kubick is a reporter at the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper here in Lincoln. She contacted me yesterday about head lice. Schools are back in session and there have been reports about “Super Resistant Lice” in the news lately – PERFECT TIMING! We had a great conversation. I’ve always enjoyed Cindy’s writing style and I think you will be too. She begins by talking about a nightmare she had … “My head was made of cabbage and the cabbage was full of bugs … “. Now I haven’t had that same nightmare, but we’ve had to deal with lice in our home too over the years so I totally get it (as I scratch my scalp thinking about it!).
I wanted to share Cindy’s article with you because she does a much better job capturing the experience of having head lice!
Here’s a link to the article: “My giant cabbage head and my years as the scalp police” by Cindy Lange-Kubick
On Thursday, October 30, 2014 from 9:10 a.m. – 10 a.m. CT, I’ll be a guest on Cathy Blythe’s award winning radio show, Problems and Solutions, on KFOR 1240AM. We’ll be talking about insect and wildlife pests commonly found in southeast Nebraska in a segment called, “What’s Bugging You?” The show airs in several different states so we work hard to make it interesting and educational for everyone! Last month, we even ran out of time! There were so many great questions from listeners who called in or sent in email questions! Certainly keeps me hopping and I love it!
Turn your radio dial to 1240AM or listen online live by clicking the button at http://www.kfor1240.com/pages/4498752.php. To find the podcast of this show later, click here: http://www.kfor1240.com/Problems-and-Solutions/5430870
As always, be sure to contact your local university extension office for information on programs and resources found in your local community. To find your local office, visit http://lancaster.unl.edu/office/locate.shtml
Have a great day!
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UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu
The last couple weeks, I have given several head lice presentations to childcare provider groups. Two important organizations (American Academy of Pediatrics; National Association of School Nurses) are discouraging the use of no-nit policies to send students home, instead of keeping them in school where they can learn and keep up with their classmates. This makes sense because nits (eggs) are hard to identify with certainty, nits can’t transfer from one child to another and lice don’t transmit diseases. For more information, check out: http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/lice/headlice018.shtml