Westminster family believes child infected with ‘super lice’

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WESTMINSTER, Colo. -- Head lice is a pain to get rid of. Super lice are even worse.

“It’s very gross. It just makes me itch and quiver all over and I’m constantly like, ‘Oh, my gosh! Do I have them?’” Latasha Fernandez said.

Fernandez is waging war against head lice. Her 7-year-old daughter Karma, who attends Lukas Elementary School, has had the bugs in her hair every week since December.

“My mom has to go through my hair like a monkey,” Karma said.

“It’s a very tedious process. You have to go through every strand of their hair,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez said she has been using Nix and Rid on her daughter’s scalp every week, but after each treatment, the lice come back.

“All weekend she’s lice free. Comes back to school and then there’s a bug again,” she said.

According to a pamphlet for new mothers put out by the Jefferson County Public Health Department in December 2013, “Students diagnosed with live head lice do not need to be sent home early from school; they can go home at the end of the day, be treated, and return to class after appropriate treatment has begun. Nits may persist after treatment, but successful treatment should kill crawling lice. Please check your school’s policy, however in general, a child can return to school immediately, regardless of the presence of nits.”

Two of Karma’s classmates had lice last week. Jefferson County Public Schools said it checked all of Karma’s classmates, removed pillows from the classroom and stopped children from touching each other’s hair to prevent spreading.

A district spokeswoman said in a statement: "As soon as a case of lice is reported in a classroom, the school nurse or nurse's aide steps in to assess the situation. Recommendations for treatment are made to parents of affected students and the remainder of the class' families are notified to be on alert for lice.

"There is no lice epidemic at Lukas Elementary. A case of lice was reported and we immediately took action. All children in the class were checked for lice, the three affected were given instructions on treatment. Protocols in the classroom were changed to prevent the spreading of lice or nits (removal of pillows, etc.). Two of the three students no longer have lice and as of March 14 we have not found lice on any other students and have no reports of additional cases. It is possible that the student still affected did not use the recommended treatment."

“I take offense because every day I do her hair, get her up, shower her,” Fernandez said in response to the district’s statement. “The Rid and the Nix isn’t working.”

Fernandez said her family doctor suspects her daughter’s head bugs are “super lice,” which over-the-counter remedies won’t cure. The family is treating the bugs with Cetaphil, an over-the-counter skin cleanser their physician recommended for suffocating lice.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated its recommendations for the treatment of lice: "Unless resistance has been seen in the community, pediatricians and parents should consider using over-the-counter medications containing 1 percent permethrin or pyrethrins as a first choice of treatment for active lice infestations.

"The best way to interrupt a chronic lice problem is with regular checks by parents and early treatment with a safe, affordable, over-the-counter pediculicide. After applying the product according to the manufacturer’s instructions, parents should follow with nit removal and wet combing. The treatment should be reapplied at day 9, and if needed, at day 18."

For “super lice,” AAP recommends consulting a physician for a prescription lice treatment.

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