Ray Ellen Bichell, Kaiser Health News
PARKER – The Marker family recently opened their doors to a woman dressed in purple with a military attitude towards cleanliness.
Linda Holmes, who worked as a technician at LiceDoctors for five years, came straight from her primary hospital job after a dispatcher called her and told the Markers family needed her as soon as possible.
According to nagging professionals, Pediculus humanus capitisThe despised head louse is back.
“He’s definitely back,” said Kelly Boswell, owner of Lice & Easy, a boutique where people in the Denver area can be neutralized. This process can take anywhere from a few minutes to hours, depending on the method and infection. “This is a sign that things are getting back to normal.”
Colds and more serious illnesses such as respiratory syncytial virus, better known as RSV, also returned. This may lead some to wonder: With all the COVID prevention measures in place, how are children sharing these things?
Like the coronavirus, these errors all depend on human communication. Unfortunately, the measures taken by many newly opened schools to prevent COVID-19 transmission – masks, hand washing, vaccinations – do little to contain the spread of head lice. However, physical distance, such as 3 feet between tables, should help if it does occur.
In theory, lice are more difficult to spread than the SARS-CoV-2 virus, because proximity alone is not enough: they usually need face-to-face contact. If a child becomes infected with lice, it most likely means that the child has spent some time close enough to another child for the parasite to move. (Researchers tend to agree that transmission through inanimate objects such as combs and hats is minimal.)
The head louse is not known for its resilience or athletic prowess. These are mainly couch potatoes pests. Adults cannot live more than one to two days without a snack of blood. Their eggs cannot hatch without the warmth of a human head and will die within a week if not in these cozy conditions. Beetles can neither jump nor fly – they can only crawl. The only thing that is characteristic of the head lice is its highly specialized claws, which have evolved to grab onto human hair.
Unlike body lice, head lice are not carriers of disease. Infection does not say anything about human hygiene. (In fact, trickster lore says bedbugs prefer clean hair because it’s easier to grab.) And despite common misconceptions, they can colonize people of all ages, races, and nationalities.
Blocking COVID was not the best option in terms of lice dominance in the world. But creatures have been associated with us for tens of thousands of years. A little isolation wasn’t about to end the romance.
Federico Galassi, a researcher at the Argentine Pest and Insecticide Research Center, found that stringent COVID restrictions early on did lead to fewer head lice among children in Buenos Aires, but these bugs have never been addressed. His research found the prevalence dropped from 70% to 44%.
And one thing is clear: when people closed their doors and squatted in the early blockages, the lice immediately squatted with us. When Salia Snelling reopened the doors of her Lice Clinic America in Boise, Idaho, in May, Salia Snelling said, “There have been more cases of lice than we’ve ever seen.” And not one or two people in the house were sick with lice, but the whole family.
Now, infection rates have returned to pre-isolation rates, despite schools being protected from COVID, according to Galassi and American lice workers.
Nix, a brand of anti-lice products, publishes a map that says lice are bad right now in Houston, much of Alabama and New Mexico, and Tulsa, Oklahoma. The map directs people to the places where its products are sold, as many parents take a do-it-yourself approach when they spy on the thing on their child’s head.
Richard Pollack, chief scientist at the free pest identification service IdentifyUS, said most of the lice prevalence claims are “marketing bullshit” in a largely unregulated industry targeting obvious infestations that are often just dandruff, glitter, hairspray and T. D. grass-dwelling collembola insects, harmless fungus or even cookie crumbs.
Perhaps the recent increase in professional nagging suggests that people are now comfortable seeking help outside the home, rather than a sign of an increase in the number of bugs.
While there is little research to support the rise in head lice, Boswell, Pollack, and even the National School Nursing Association agree that insects are unlikely to spread in the classroom as lice transmission in school is considered rare. Instead, Boswell said, it’s more likely that as other activities resume – sleepovers, play dates, summer camp, family reunions – mistakes will flourish again.
Pollack once wrote on a slide presentation: “Head lice indicate a child has friends.” Preschoolers tend to get the most infections “because they’re more enjoyable,” said Julia Wilson, co-owner of Rocky Mountain Lice Removal in Lafayette. But she has also noticed a rise among teens, which she attributes to taking selfies with friends.
“You tell them, ‘Did you touch their heads? “And the teenager is like,” No, never, “Wilson said. “And suddenly they are literally taking selfies with their friends.”
The Marker family does not know where the third grader Huntley’s lice came from. Maybe a close friend or her dance group? Markers spent over $ 200 to test a family of four, including his father’s eyebrows and beard. Her father and her preschool brother were nits free. But Holmes found a couple of nits on Paris, Huntley’s mom.
“You can burn my whole head right now,” Paris said.
After carefully combing each head, Holmes ended the session by saying goodbye to her clients, proving that she trusted her work.
Kaiser Health News is the national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.