Alabama among 25 states with treatment-resistant lice

by News Editor Anna Brown and Student Writer Lauren Honeycutt

Researchers found treatment-resistant lice in at least 25 states, according to an article from the American Chemical Society. The article said Alabama is one of those 25 states.

These treatment-resistant lice do not respond to any home remedies or over-the-counter treatments, according to the article.

“To our knowledge, there has not been an outbreak of lice on campus,” said University Health Services nurse practitioner Laura Garrett. “We have isolated, individual cases on occasion, but no outbreak at present.”

Garrett said primary schools do mass screenings after seeing multiple students with head lice. She said this screening helps stop lice from spreading by catching all the students with lice and treating them.

However, a college campus contains more students than a primary school, so campus lice screenings are not common practice, she said.

“In an elementary school, teachers have 40 students maximum in each class. A school nurse can easily screen all the students. When you are dealing with a university campus consisting of 6,000 students, screening every student is impossible.”

Junior Ian Patlan said he thinks students living in dorms should be screened for lice.

“It would be like every other health screening like the tuberculosis test,” he said. “It should be done especially if it is for the benefit of the entire university.”

She said University Health Services expects students, like adults, to come to the infirmary for a screening if they think they have lice.

“I don’t think students should be screened for lice, especially at our age,” said senior Morgan Milam.

Some symptoms of lice are intense itching, tickling feelings from movement of hair and presence of lice eggs (nits) and lice on clothing, scalp, body or body hair, according to Mayo Clinic.

Garrett said she cautions students against using over-the-counter treatments or common treatments like soaking the scalp in mayonnaise.

“We encourage them to go ahead and come to the infirmary,” she said.

“That way, someone who is trained and knows what they are looking for can examine you and write a prescription. I encourage them to come especially since we are in an outbreak.”

These non-chemical, over-the-counter treatments smother the lice to death instead of killing them like a prescription treatment would, she said.

However, if chemicals are frequently used for lice treatment, the lice may develop resistance to them, according to the article from the American Chemical Society.

“104 out of 109 lice populations we tested had high levels of gene mutation,” said Kyong Yoon, P.h. D. who collected data for the survey. “If you use chemicals over and over, these little creatures will eventually develop resistance.”

“If anyone on campus feels they may have symptoms of lice, to come to University Health Services to be examined and that we will be happy to treat them,” Garrett said. “If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me.”

Continuing education student Sydney Thomas said thinks screening every student living in dorms would be a simple task.