The so-called ‘super lice’ outbreak strikes 25 U.S. states, according to recent national media reports.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, lice are parasitic insects roughly 2–3 mm long. Lice can be found the head, eyebrows, and eyelashes of people. Head lice infest the head and neck and attach their eggs to the base of the hair shaft.
Head lice feed on human blood several times a day and live close to the human scalp. Lice move by crawling; they cannot hop or fly. Head lice infestation, or pediculosis, is spread most commonly by close person-to-person contact. Dogs, cats, and other pets do not play a role in the transmission of human lice.
Also, head lice are not known to spread disease.
In August 2015 a searcher at the Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville Kyong Yoon, Ph.D. proved that there are lice that are resistant to the chemical used in most common over-the-counter lice treatment.
Yoon studied a large number of samples from across the country and came to the conclusion that almost all lice populations tested have developed gene mutations that made them resistant to the chemical called pyrethroids.
According to phys.org, pyrethroids are a family of insecticides used to control mosquitoes and other insects. It includes permethrin, the active ingredient in some of the most common lice treatments sold at drug stores.
According to CDC, the head lice may become resistant to the treatment used. But CDC also mentions that the treatment may also be ineffective because it wasn’t used correctly or because it was a wrong diagnosis altogether.
In the case of the possible super lice, CDC suggests working closely with the pharmacist or the medical professional to make sure the treatment was used correctly and to pick out another treatment method if needed.
So, what’s the solution? Dr. Yoon says that lice can still be controlled by using different chemicals, some of which are available only by prescription, according to Phys.org.
On another note, the most common way to get lice infestation is the head-to-head contact which is common at schools, kindergartens, playgrounds, camp, slumber parties etc.
Less common ways include sharing clothing (hats, scarves, coats, sports uniforms) or articles (hair ribbons, barrettes, combs, brushes, towels, stuffed animals) recently worn or used by an infested person; or lying on a bed, couch, pillow, or carpet that has recently been in contact with an infested person.
Back in 2000, pyrethroids worked 100 percent of the time, but dropped to just 25 percent in 2013. Scientists found that the current super lice are resistant to chemicals found in majority of OTC treatments. The Lice Clinics of America rolled out a new treatment called AirAllé that can effectively treat super lice cases.
The FDA-approved AirAllé has a tag price of $170 and is covered by most insurance. While combing, nit-picking and prescription drugs can also treat super lice, using these methods require multiple treatments that could take time.
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