A recent study suggests that OTC treatment-resistant head lice were reported in 25 of 30 states surveyed. Researchers reported that the pesky bugs were affected by a mutation which renders them immune to traditional remedies including special shampoos, electrocuting combs, or a nearly obsessive-compulsive hygiene.
The research team said that the resistant bugs were identified in various communities across the States, but no one really took them seriously. Yet, the latest generation of lice cannot be ignored. Some of them can only be eradicated through antibiotics.
The recent research about mutant lice was led by Southern Illinois University. Dr. Kyong Sup Yoon, a co-author of the research and biology expert at the university, along with Drs. John Clark of the University of Massachusetts reported that they weren’t able to find super lice in only five states.
Yoon believes that nearly any U.S. parent who learns that his or her kid was infested with head lice would eventually find out that the bugs are immune to conventional over the counter drugs. Both researchers involved in the study said that they had studied lice and lice strain morphology for nearly 15 years.
In 2000, researchers reported for the first time that they found some unusual drug-resistant lice mutations. Those mutations continued to spread as many people chose to treat lice with over the counter medications called pyrethroids. Doctors also recommended those treatments for being safe to children.
Yoon explained that if you use the same approach over and over again you virtually encourage lice strains to mutate and gain resistance. On the other hand, study authors acknowledged that part of their research was funded by big pharmas that offer more expensive alternatives to pyrethroids.
Yoon also hopes that the recent findings should change the way people treat lice. Instead of going to a drugstore they should head to a dermatologist or pediatrician and use only prescription treatments.
Researchers noted that there is not a quick fix for the drug-resistant strains. Plus, if doctors supervise the process, there isn’t a risk of further mutations. Nevertheless, the recent study waits for a peer review at the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The ACP said that drug-resistant head lice are a persistent and concerning problem in the U.S. In spring, the academy urged parents who see that over-the-counter remedies fail to address doctors for prescription medication.
Nevertheless, the ACP noted that failed attempts to eliminate head lice with OTC remedies were often linked to accidents or improper use of the treatments, rather than to drug resistance.
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