Sunday, April 29, 2007

Head lice

This five-minute podcast from Sound Medicine at Indiana School of Medince should be mandatory listening to everyone with a child enrolled at Mercer Island elementary schools. Based on new, systematic research by Richard J. Pollack and other epidemiologists from Harvard, scientists have concluded that:

  • Lice spread only by head-to-head contact -- not from sharing hats or combs.
  • Personal hygiene has no affect one way or another on incidents of infestation
  • Even school nurses generally have only a 50% accuracy rate when diagnosing an infestation.

Here's what the Harvard School of Public Health says:

  • Sending children home in order to reduce transmission of lice is "virtually always counter-productive."
  • Head lice spread far less easily than cold or flu virus.
  • "We are unaware of any convincing data that demonstrates that enforced exclusion policies are effective in reducing the transmission of lice. "

Here's a data sheet with recommendations for how to manage a head lice infestation at school. Basic idea:

  1. Don't bother with the nits; thoroughly remove live lice with a louse comb every day or two for a week.
  2. Try chemicals if that doesn't work.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Have you ever had a child with head lice? We have been dealing with it for 2 years. Can you come over and help with daily laundry, changing sheets, spraying backpacks and gym bags, etc., etc.