Catching head lice is practically a rite of passage for schoolchildren, which is why this latest report is so disturbing.
According to reports in the US, schools in 25 states are on high alert amid the breakout of ‘superbug’ head lice.
Experts claim that lice have developed to carry a high level of resistance to many common over-the-counter treatments, turning them into an even greater nuisance for parents and schoolchildren.
While the ‘outbreak’ has been reported in America, experts say that the science behind these ‘superbugs’ could make it a widespread problem.
“If you overuse a product, over time the selection pressure will cause insects to develop resistance to it,” said Kyong Yoon, lead author of ongoing research in the topic.
He added: “It’s a really, really serious problem right now in the US. Though head lice aren’t known to transmit any diseases, they can be an itchy nuisance – and now, they’re harder to kill.”
Yoon explained how he and his team studied the creatures and discovered that they had developed a gene mutation against pyrethroids, a chemical commonly used to treat them. Shockingly, in 104 out of the 109 lice populations that Yoon tested, the creatures were found to be resistant against pyrethroids.
Experts have advised for a number of treatments be made available to parents, so that the lice can’t select against one particular mutation.