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