'Super lice' discovered in Georgia

Tuesday, September 1st 2015, 3:55 am EDT Tuesday, September 1st 2015, 11:40 am EDT

By Catherine Patterson, Anchor



As if head lice weren’t stressful enough, parents have a new bug to look out for. Super Lice are making their debut in Georgia.

Scientists recently published results of a study that found a mutant form of lice in half of America. But the most concerning discovery was the form of lice is resistant to over-the-counter treatments.

Experts said six to 12 million infestations occur every year among children ages three to 11. And the new study by American Chemical Society researchers found nearly 95 percent of the lice sampled in Georgia and in 29 other states showed that they were desensitized to pyrethroids, the chemical used to kill them.

Dougherty county health department director Remy Hutchins said now is the time for parents to make sure their kids are taking precautions as the school year gets going.

“Especially when fall rolls in, it gets a littler cooler. Children start sharing items. So, we want to make sure that everyone keeps their hats and their scarves to themselves. You don’t want to share barrettes and bows,” said Hutchins.

Symptoms include a tickling feeling of something moving in the hair.  Also, itching, irritability, and difficulty sleeping. Sores on the head caused by scratching are other symptoms, which may become infected.

Hutchins said they’re not aware of any cases of super lice in Dougherty county, but urged parents to still follow the normal recommendations when it comes to treatment.

That includes washing clothes, bedding, and towels in hot water, and any other items used by the person in a two day period. All household members and other close contacts should be checked, as well.

When treating head lice, supplemental measures can be combined with recommended pharmacological treatment. If you believe your child still has lice after treatment, Hutchins suggests consulting your doctor.

For more information, you can visit http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/treatment.html.

Copyright 2015 WALB. All rights reserved.

Mutant head lice found in 25 states including Georgia

Updated: Aug 19, 2015 - 9:33 AM

ATLANTA - The beginning of the 2015-2016 school year means the beginning of a search for a new treatment against head lice.

New research indicates that half of America is home to a form of head lice that is resistant to most over-the-counter treatments.

At the 250th American Chemical Society meeting on Tuesday,researchers  stated that more than 95 percent of lice populations tested had high levels of gene mutations.

"What we found was that 104 out of the 109 lice populations we tested had high levels of gene mutations, which have been linked to resistance to pyrethroids," said Kyong Yoon, who conducted the research

Pyrethroids are a type of insecticide that include a chemical also used in many lice treatments widely recommended by doctors and schools and available in most drug stores.

Yoon gathered lice from 30 states for the study. He found that the lice had a trio of genetic mutations known as “knock-down resistance.” The mutations affect the insect’s nervous system, desensitizing it to pyrethroids, according to the study.

"If you use a chemical over and over, these little creatures will eventually develop resistance," said Dr. Kyong Yoon, who led the research.

Channel 2’s Craig Lucie spoke with an epidemiologist from the Georgia Department of Public Health about what parents need to know if their children come home with lice.

Sr. Laura Edison says the over-the-counter treatments can still be effective if you are thorough. She says there's more research to be done and there is probably a lot more resistance that we don't know about, but she says the main thing for parents is to still treat their children the same way they did before this new study.

“It may not kill all the lice and you may have an infection. That can be prevented by doing thorough combing. Eliminating lice and eggs,’ Edison said.

To help prevent your child from getting lice, doctors say you should have your daughter wear her hair up and don't allow your children to share brushes, combs or hats with their friends.

Here’s a checklist doctors recommend if your child comes home with lice:

  • Treat the bedding, towels and anything your child has come in contact by washing and drying them with high heat. You should also vacuum your couch.

  • Freeze your combs for 24 hours and then clean them to get the hair out, not before.

  • Put any stuffed animals or sheets in a bag and seal it. Some doctors recommend they stay there for up to two weeks.

Lice in the following states are said to have developed a high level of resistance to the most common treatments recommended by doctors: 

  • Alabama 

  • Arizona

  • Arkansas

  • California

  • Connecticut

  • Florida

  • Georgia

  • Illinois

  • Indiana

  • Kansas

  • Kentucky

  • Maine

  • Maryland

  • Massachusetts

  • Minnesota

  • Missouri

  • North Carolina

  • Ohio

  • Rhode Island

  • South Carolina

  • Tennessee

  • Texas

  • Virginia

  • Washington

  • Wisconsin