Lice outbreak is reported

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SANDPOINT — Parents will likely want to keep a close eye on their kids’ scalps in the coming weeks.

According to Lake Pend Oreille School District nurses, reports of lice infestation of schoolchildren are becoming more problematic. Several children have been sent home with a head full of the creepy-crawlies. A notice from the district office warns parents that “lice have affected every school in the district, and it seems to be a problem right now.”

“It’s really bad in a couple of elementary schools,” district nurse Dana Williams said. “A lot of kids have been sent home.”

While Williams declined to name specific schools especially affected by lice, she said that the district was making every effort to keep parents appraised of the situation.

Nevertheless, it’s one they saw coming. This is the time of year when they always expect to see some lice cases. After the transition to cold weather and the tendency for students to start wearing hats, nurses begin keeping a close eye for signs to prevent a potential spread. It’s not a fun job, Williams added, but someone has to do it.

“Not a lot of people want to volunteer to do that,” she said. “Our volunteers really drop off when you ask them to check for lice.”

 For parents that find their child has lice, it’s a good idea to get the situation taken care of quickly. School district policy requires that parents eliminate the lice before the child returns to school. It’s also simply good sense to solve the problem as soon as possible to prevent a potential spread.

If your child has developed or develops a case of head lice, there are several simple steps to put a stop to the invasion. Medical shampoos and lotions, known as pediculicides, are available in both over-the-counter and prescription forms, and the first move should be to use one of those items. Carefully search over the affected individual’s scalp and pick off all lice eggs, or nits, which will be cemented to the hair follicle — it’s likely dandruff if you can blow it off the follicle.

It’s also important to prevent any potential spread of lice. Avoid head-to-head contact with the affected person, don’t share any hats, combs or other items that touch hair and machine wash and dry all clothing, bed linens and other items used by the individual on high head. It’s also a good idea to wash or vacuum any couches, floors, cars or furniture the child may have used. Items that can’t be washed, like teddy bears, should be put in plastic and placed inside a freezer.

While lice aren’t like fleas and can’t jump from person to person, it’s important to take every precaution. If one female makes the trip to a new home, it can lay eight eggs every day, and that can add up to even more trouble.

Parents with any questions should call Williams at 263-9525, ext. 1209.   

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