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Day care centers and parents watch for super lice

Updated: Wednesday, January 29 2014, 06:21 AM EST

Rochester, N.Y. -- Day care centers like Expressive Beginnings in Henrietta are staying extra vigilant trying to prevent a new breed of treatment resistant lice known as "super lice" from latching on to kids.

So far, it's working.

“We have been very fortunate here at Expressive Beginnings," said Suzanne Rounding, executive director. "We've had no lice since we've been open almost three years.” 

Rounding attributes that to around the clock cleaning and set up.

“The children have cubbies so nothing's touching either, so if something came in and we didn't catch it, the coats aren't touching,” Rounding said.

Also, cots, toys and linen are washed daily.

One thing day care centers like Expressive Beginnings ensure is that children don't share hats and gloves. If a child comes to class without them, the day care center will provide a clean one and wash it after each use.

Summer Shellman was not so lucky.

The “super lice” invaded her home last summer.

First her daughter, then son, then it spread to the entire family.

“Aggravating, itchy, it brings down your self-confidence,” Shellman said. “You think you're dirty or you did something wrong and really it's one of the most common things you can bring into your home, is lice.”

“It has nothing to do with hygiene," said Dr. Mansi Ladrigan, a pediatric dermatologist. "The reason we see it in more kids is because they play together, very close usually and they share items.” 

Dr. Ladrigan said the pests thrive on human hosts, saying they’ve become resistant to treatment.

She equates their resistance to treatments as survival of the fittest; they’ve tried to find mechanisms to get around products we use.

Dr. Ladrigan added that while the “super lice” show resistance, there is a better way to treat it.

“If you do a good job of combing the hair out, that really is the first line of treatment,” Dr. Ladrigan said. “Combing your hair out once or twice a day for a week with no medication.”

The Shellmans spent nearly $100 on over-the-counter products, and combed through hair with a lice comb for almost two months.

But it finally paid off.

“We’ve been doing a good job of keeping the hats clean, pillow cases clean, hot, hot water,” Shellman said.

Dr. Ladrigan cautioned rushing to buy over-the-counter products without a true diagnosis because that can lead to these bugs building more of a resistance.

She also suggested sealing clothes or other items in a bag and placing it in an attic or garage for about a week.

Not having a warm body to feed and live off of will eventually kill the lice, too.

There are also alternatives methods for treating lice.

A Buffalo company named Naughty Nits uses an organic method, without the use of pesticides.

A Rochester treatment center is expected to open next month.


Alexis Arnold, 13WHAM-TV
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"Good Day Rochester" on Fox Rochester also spoke to a local dermatologist about "Super Lice."  The in-depth discussion can be found by clicking here.  

Day care centers and parents watch for super lice


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