The Supernits; Schools Infested by Creeping Plague of Poison-Resistant Lice

Daily Mail (London), November 18, 2003 | Go to article overview

The Supernits; Schools Infested by Creeping Plague of Poison-Resistant Lice


Byline: SIMON HOUSTON

SCOTTISH schoolchildren face serious hair infestation by a so-called 'superlouse'.

Health experts last night warned of a new stronger breed of head lice growing increasingly resistant to even the most potent treatments.

Common nits have long been a problem in schools, spreading throughout class-rooms like wildfire and causing telltale itching and head-scratching.

Now a 'super breed' has sprung up and busy parents are being blamed for not spending enough time properly ridding their children's hair of the parasites.

There are now more head lice in Scotland than at any time in recent history.

Five years ago, an average of 8 per cent of Scottish school children were affected at any given time. Now experts are warning 20 per cent are affected and in some inner-city areas, that figure can rise to 50 per cent.

The demand for lotions is now so high in Greater Glasgow that parents are being asked to bring living lice into chemists to prove their child is infected.

Yesterday, a Glasgow University scientist said it is unlikely Scots cities will ever be free of the pest.

Parasitologist Dr Mike Turner claimed that the resistance of the insects, combined with increasingly busy lives of parents, means the lice may never be eradicated.

He said: 'Quite frankly, I don't see an end to this. It's not a problem we're going to cure, we're just going to have to learn to cope with it.

'It's a city problem, where there are higher populations, rather than in the countryside. I don't think we are ever going to see a city such as Glasgow free of head lice.

'Of course we could do with more money to do research to find better compounds that will kill the lice.

But I think parents spend too much money on over-the-counter treatments - especially as the lice are building resistance to them.

'The combing method, which is time-consuming if done properly, is the best answer. …

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