It’s drop-off day at summer camp and smiles are everywhere. Campers and counselors share hugs, music blares from outdoor speakers, and parents greet one another. But before they can bid their parents goodbye, the kids must pass the mandatory pre-admission lice check. Campers who have lice will be sent home to be treated and will not be welcomed back until they are lice-free.
Anyone who has ever had to deal with these tiny critters can attest to the fact that the parasitic insects, found on the head, eyebrows and eyelashes, are not easily evicted! In fact, many claim the lice epidemic has become more pervasive in recent years, as the insects have become resistant to chemicals in the solutions that were once effective in treating the condition.
One of the most common myths about lice is that they are symptomatic of poor hygiene or low socioeconomic status. However, the CDC debunks this myth, estimating that “the incidence of lice in school children ranges from 2 percent and 52 percent. In the United States, says the CDC, “there are 6 million to 12 million infestations each year in this group.” Children contract head lice through “head-to-head” contact with an infested person that occurs through play, at sleepovers, during sports activities and at camp.
Preventing the transmission of lice is not easy. Though some swear by preventive shampoos, others dispute their usefulness. The CDC advises avoiding head-to-head contact as much as possible and discourages the sharing of combs, brushes, hats, scarfs and towels. If lice does strike, the whole house must be deloused. That means, linens, towels, stuffed animals, pillows, etc.