DES MOINES, Iowa--With the 2016 school year around the corner, children in Iowa continue to squeeze out the last few drops of summer, but awaiting them and the rest of us, is a much stronger, mutated form of lice.
"That sounds gross to me," said mother of two Jaime McTaggart.
State Epidemiologist Patricia Quinlisk says what many are calling "Super Lice" is true. "Lice has sometimes developed a resistance to the usual over the counter medications."
A new study in the Journal of Medical Entomology has found cases in 42 states, including Iowa where lice were 100% resistant to over the counter treatments. McTaggart said, "I can see that being a big problem. It just doesn't go away and spreads to other kids."
While the thought of mutated lice will give anyone the chills, they aren't any bigger and will not make you or your child sick. "Unlike how mosquitos can carry West Nile, lice don't carry anything. Yes, they'll bite you and make an itchy bite, but the good news is they don't spread diseases in Iowa," said Dr. Quinlisk.
Health officials believe it is parents' lack of effort that has helped contribute to this mutation. "Whatever product you use, make sure you use it completely. Use it correctly and make sure you do the in between steps of washing hair and combing dead lice out," said Dr. Quinlisk.
If that fails, Dr. Quinlisk said, "Go talk to a healthcare provider because there are some prescription medications that can be tried also." Giving parents the proper equation to a problem they hope their children don't come home with this school year. "I think it will be real important that I keep my eye out for that and just keep in communication with her teachers and taking precautions," said McTaggart.
Contrary to belief, lice is difficult to spread because it cannot jump and can only crawl. Dr. Quinlisk encourages school districts to not keep kids with lice home from school and says a great way to find out which products are working best is to ask your local pharmacy.