A handful of cases of head lice have been reported at Rae C. Stedman Elementary School. The outbreak is limited to five students and has been contained, said Principal Erica Kludt-Painter.
School officials were notified earlier this month by parents of a preschooler, who has a sibling at Stedman. Both the pre-schooler and the Stedman student had lice, Kludt-Painter said, adding that four more children were also found to have lice.
“All of the cases so far are from the same group of kids that spend time together,” Kludt-Painter said.
Head lice are tiny insects that live on the scalp, but lice can also be found in eyebrows and eyelashes.
According to the Center for Disease Control, lice can be spread through close, personal contact with another infested individual; through use of shared combs, brushes, and other grooming aids; through sharing hats, caps, wigs, coats; or through co-mingling of these items at the homes of friends, at school, etc.
After a more widespread breakout of lice last year, school officials immediately checked all of the students at Stedman, said Health Nurse Stacy Dahl. A bulletin was sent out to parents on Friday, Feb. 10 regarding the reported cases. And parents of the affected children met with Dahl.
“None of the kids involved have siblings that go to the middle school or high school,” Dahl said. “I think this is something that we can stay on top of,” she added.
School officials have taken precautionary measures to limit the further spread of lice.
“The school is bagging up backpacks and coats and taking other cautionary measures,” Kludt-Painter said. “The staff has bagged up pillows and stuffed animals, and the janitors are doing extra vacuuming.”
Head lice can be eradicated by the use of medicated shampoo, however using the shampoo on a non-infected child will not prevent the spread of lice, and could cause harm due to the toxicity of the shampoo, Kludt-Painter said.
For the next few weeks, Kludt-Painter asks for parents to check their children's scalps daily and curb slumber parties with large numbers of children.
“We don't have the manpower to check 200 kids a day,” Kludt-Painter said.