The school system's "no nit" policy goes into effect a week fromtoday.
Children with nits (the eggs that look like dandruff) or adult licewill be sent home immediately. The children will not be allowed to ride aschool bus or return to class until they have been treated and have passeda scalp inspection.
Shirley Cohen, director of the system's student services, says therehave been hundreds of cases already this school year in the county's 28public schools. Johnston educators hope to stop head lice from becomingan epidemic.
The growth of Johnston County's population may be a factor in therising numbers of lice cases. The system has 18,300 students this yearand adds about 1,000 children each fall.
And holidays don't help the matter, because kids tend to visit eachother more and have sleep-overs, which encourage children almost literallyto "get their heads together." The sharing of tables in elementaryschool, and of combs and brushes by older children, also contribute to theproblem.
The principal of East Clayton Elementary School, Dr. Peggy Smith, saidmany people still mistakenly associate lice with being dirty. To thecontrary, she says, "You can find head lice on a child whose hair iswashed every night."
One concern on a national level is that some strains of licemay bebecoming resistant to the standard component of treatment, permethrin. TheNational Pediculosis Association says more people are reporting that theover-the-counter shampoos have not cured the infestations.
The National Pediculosis Association suggests that if one family membergets lice, everyone should be treated. The house should be vacuumedthoroughly and sheets, pillows, blankets and towels should be washed andchanged often. Hats should not be shared.
Stuffed animals, which can become dusted with lice or nits, should bewashed and temporarily consigned to a plastic bag for two weeks so thelice can die off.
The good news, such as it is, in the lice story is that you don't haveto subject Fido or Fluffy to anti-lice baths. Dogs and cats don't serveas carriers for lice or nits.