Superbugs: treatment-resistant head lice have now spread to 25 U.S. states

Lice B
August 2015HEALTHJust in time for the new school year, head lice have become literal superbugs. Lice have developed a high level of resistance to the most common over-the-counter treatments in 25 states, according to research presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society. “If you overuse a product, over time, the selection pressure will cause insects to develop resistance to it,” Kyong Yoon, an assistant professor of biological and environmental science at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville and lead author of this ongoing research, told a group of journalists.
Head lice are most commonly treated with pyrethroids, a widely used class of indoor-outdoor insecticides, often used for mosquito control. Yoon and his team found that lice developed a gene mutation, known as knock-down resistance (kdr) against the pyrethroids — rendering them ineffective. In 104 out of the 109 lice populations Yoon tested, the insects were resistant to pyrethroids. “Lice don’t have wings, and they don’t jump, so they move where people move,” Yoon said. That’s why the new school year is such a vulnerable time for head lice transmission. Kids bring lice back from vacations and into the classroom, where they pass the infestation on to their classmates.
“It’s a really, really serious problem right now in the U.S.,” Yoon told Time. “Though head lice aren’t known to transmit any diseases, they can be an itchy nuisance — and now, they’re harder to kill.” Pyrethroid-resistant lice were first discovered in Israel in the 1990s and Yoon was one of the first researchers to report on pyrethroid-resistant lice in the United States, in Massachusetts in 2000. “At this particular time, we have five states that are not completely saturated with the kdr mutations,” said co-author, J. Marshall Clark, a professor of veterinary and animal sciences at the University of Massachusetts. Among those five states, there’s only one state — Michigan — where the population of lice are still largely susceptible to pyrethroids.
There are other chemicals, such asivermectin or spinosad, which are available by prescription, that can kill head lice, but they’re not as safe or as gentle as the pyrethroids that doctors and schools currently recommend. “For the past 20 to 25 years, we only used the products containing over-the-counter pyrethroids,” Clark said. “One, because they were very available. Two, because they are incredibly safe.” To prevent head lice from mutating again the future, said Clark, there need to be a number of anti-lice products on the market at the same time, so that lice can’t select against one particular mutation, the way they did with pyrethroids. –Huffington Post
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5 Responses to Superbugs: treatment-resistant head lice have now spread to 25 U.S. states

  1. Judyc says:

    Easy cure – shave the hair off. Its quite fashionable to be shaven these days and its very healthy to shave it off frequently. Gone will the bugs be and anything in the skin (under the surface is far more accessible to destroy


  2. Yellow Bird says:

    they are only resistant to Chemicals, which have only ever been the remedy of greatest Convenience (ah, we are such a microwave society)
    oldest solution is still the best: Hand Pick + Finetooth Comb several times a day until no nits appear for one week– clean and clear

    the map may show OR not to have the “resistant” kind, but i can vouch from several incidents, they have indeed swept our city schools. Families who hand-picked meticulously had children with clean scalps weeks before families who insisted on relying on the Chems… “why do they keep relapsing???” but we who eradicated by hand had no relapses


    • Judyc says:

      Just share the hair off, takes 5 minutes, fool proof and prevents them coming back and its so healthy for the hair to be shave off. so simple


  3. Joan C. says:

    Simple answer, smother them so they can’t breathe, and they die. It’s not a good solution, but it works better than anything that you could buy in a store. Vaseline. Cover the head, get the scalp good with it. Kills them dead. I should know. Had that problem with my daughter. Tried and tried everything in the store. Spent a lot of money on it. Just junk. Till one of our family members told us. We tried it, and it worked like a charm the first time!


  4. marice nelson says:

    the non soap cleanser cetaphil works well for lice, just wash hair, use a generous amount to coat, sleep in a shower cap or not leave in hair 24 hours,then wash, you will still have to pick the nits, and you may want to repeat the treatment in a day or two. wash clothes and linens. this was a godsend and when it dry your hair doesnt even look that bad. google for more info, but i think it smothers them.


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