Local News

Johnston County Schools Run Lice Check

Posted December 29, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— Johnston County teachers will start an organized checking of their students for lice when classes resume next week.

The school system's "no nit" policy goes into effect a week from today.

Children with nits (the eggs that look like dandruff) or adult lice will be sent home immediately. The children will not be allowed to ride a school bus or return to class until they have been treated and have passed a scalp inspection.

Shirley Cohen, director of the system's student services, says there have been hundreds of cases already this school year in the county's 28 public schools. Johnston educators hope to stop head lice from becoming an epidemic.

The growth of Johnston County's population may be a factor in the rising numbers of lice cases. The system has 18,300 students this year and adds about 1,000 children each fall.

And holidays don't help the matter, because kids tend to visit each other more and have sleep-overs, which encourage children almost literally to "get their heads together." The sharing of tables in elementary school, and of combs and brushes by older children, also contribute to the problem.

The principal of East Clayton Elementary School, Dr. Peggy Smith, said many people still mistakenly associate lice with being dirty. To the contrary, she says, "You can find head lice on a child whose hair is washed every night."

One concern on a national level is that some strains of lice may be becoming resistant to the standard component of treatment, permethrin. The National Pediculosis Association says more people are reporting that the over-the-counter shampoos have not cured the infestations.

The National Pediculosis Association suggests that if one family member gets lice, everyone should be treated. The house should be vacuumed thoroughly and sheets, pillows, blankets and towels should be washed and changed often. Hats should not be shared.

Stuffed animals, which can become dusted with lice or nits, should be washed and temporarily consigned to a plastic bag for two weeks so the lice can die off.

The good news, such as it is, in the lice story is that you don't have to subject Fido or Fluffy to anti-lice baths. Dogs and cats don't serve as carriers for lice or nits.