Oklahoma sees increased lice activity during COVID-19 pandemic

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Source: CDC

OKLAHOMA (KFOR) – The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about increased lice activity in Oklahoma and Arkansas, according to lice clinic officials.

Lice Clinics of America–MidSouth’s two Oklahoma clinics has reported a 42 percent increase in lice treatments from April to May. Arkansas clinics has seen a 69 percent increase during the same period, according to a Lice Clinics of America news release.

“We were able to stay open throughout the pandemic, seeing families one at a time in our clinics,” said Jessie Foley, Director of Clinics for the three MidSouth clinics in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and in Lowell, Arkansas. “Our staff wear masks and all clinics practice thorough cleaning protocols. We also screen clients regarding their health so if they have respiratory distress or a temperature, they can reschedule.”

Lice infestation is primarily impacting families during the pandemic because families have isolated at home together, according to Foley.

“We’ve found that the one individual that had lice spread it to the entire family during the quarantine. Instead of seeing one or two individuals at our clinic, we’re seeing more families,” Foley said. “The level of infestations was still mild to moderate but were spread across multiple individuals.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states the following about how lice is spread:

“Head-to-head contact with an already infested person is the most common way to get head lice. Head-to-head contact is common during play at school, at home, and elsewhere, such as sports activities, the playground, slumber parties, and camps.”

CDC

Dr. Krista Lauer, Medical Director for Lice Clinics of America, advises parents who have elementary and middle-school age children to take immediate step to either prevent their children from becoming infested with lice or to effectively treat and kill the lice before they spread to someone else.

“First, don’t panic, and second, don’t be embarrassed. A head lice infestation has nothing to do with personal hygiene or the cleanliness of your environment. In fact, with recent self-isolating orders, head lice infestations more easily spread to everyone in the household due to close proximity,” Lauer said.

Lauer recommends that parents do the following to ensure lice is not living in their child’s hair:

1. Inspect your own head and your child’s, especially if your child has an itchy scalp. Look for eggs, nymphs, and adult lice. One adult louse can lay about a hundred eggs during her life span. That’s a lot of new lice.
2. Call the parents of your child’s friends and have them check for head lice, remembering that earlier intervention can help to reduce the infestation level. With shelter-in-place orders being lifted, kids are playing together again, and summer camps are in session.
3. If you see lice—or if you are unsure whether you have lice—visit a professional lice treatment center such as Lice Clinics of America for a screening.
4. Traditional over-the-counter treatments contain pesticides that are ineffective. Lice have evolved into “super lice” and have developed resistance to those pesticides. Find a treatment that is safe and effective. Lice Clinics of America has several options to choose from.

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