Super lice bugging more people - KPTV - FOX 12

Super lice bugging more people

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15-year-old Kennedy Koenig checks her head for super lice 15-year-old Kennedy Koenig checks her head for super lice

At least a couple times a month, 15-year-old Kennedy Koenig of Portland carefully inspects her hair and scalp in the mirror, looking for lice.

After last summer it’s hard to blame her: Kennedy said she got lice not once, but ten times. Getting rid of the pests was a nightmare.

“I was definitely frustrated because it kept coming back, and it was annoying,” Kennedy said. And I had things to do and wanted to be around people.”

“I kept away from everyone when I had it,” Kennedy added. “I didn’t tell anybody. It was embarrassing to me.”

Kennedy said she tried just about every product out there and followed all the rules when it comes to lice: she isolated her belongings and washed just about everything she wore or used.

Kennedy and her mother now believe it was a bigger problem – that Kennedy had a nasty case of a growing phenomenon: super lice. The pests have become resistant to many treatments and are much more difficult to kill.

According to the Journal of Medical Entomology, super lice have now spread to 48 states including Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington, where more than 50 percent of cases in the last three years were found to be super lice.

"We have to manually comb out every single one,” said Brooke Bishop of Hair Fairies. “There's not a product that will magically kill the lice anymore."

Hair Fairies is a business that specializes in lice removal and treatments. The company has several stores across the United States. Its Portland location opened in March.

Hair Fairies has its own products that it claims repel lice, but Bishop said painstaking, manual removal is key.

 “(It takes) about two to four hours so it’s a long time commitment, but we do guarantee they’ll be out,” Bishop said.

Bishop said with more cases of super lice, the shop is gearing up for a busy school year.

Because it’s more difficult to get rid of lice, Bishop said that prevention is even more crucial.

Here are some tips from Hair Fairies and the Centers for Disease Control:

  • Avoid head-to-head contact – getting close for a ‘selfie’ could spread lice if one person has them.
  • Make sure your child doesn’t share combs, hairbrushes, hair ties, hats or clothing.
  • If your child has long hair, consider ponytails, braids or buns.

Many medical professionals no longer believe lice should keep kids out of school.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends students wait until after school to go home and be treated, and then return to school as soon as treatment has begun.

The CDC says lice have not been shown to spread disease.

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