Parents say school lice outbreak preventable

Posted at 7:47 PM, May 16, 2016

Picture day at a local school turned into a lice outbreak and now some parents say it could have been avoided.

Candice Enriquez  was a little concerned after hearing about a lice outbreak at her daughter's school, The Lowry Park Zoo School in Seminole Heights, but is glad her child wasn’t one of them.

“I had already been putting coconut oil on my daughters hair just to moisturize it. Turns out lice can’t live in coconut oil. It kills them," Enriquez said.

But not every parent was that lucky. The Zoo School couldn’t tell ABC Action News about specific cases but says the outbreak happened after graduation pictures were taken last week. The school hired an outside company for the job and parents tell ABC Action News the same cap was put on each child.

Now parents are left with a huge job of their own.

“You come here to get it cleaned up but then there’s hours and hours of work at home if you don’t get it cleaned up,” said one parent.

We spoke to a mom getting lice removed with her daughters. She didn’t want to show her face and says her daughters don’t go to that school but says in her opinion the company taking pictures should have known better. 

“You just can’t do that, unfortunately,” she said.

Michelle Cherry, owner of Lice Away Today says, “under no circumstances should children share hats, helmets, hair products.”

Many parents come to Cherry’s business after trying over-the-counter medicine, but with lice being so common they've grown resistant to that treatment.

“Parents keep using the products over and over again thinking they’re not doing something correct, but really it's the products they have aren’t working,” Cherry said.

Lice resistant to over-the-counter treatment are known as super lice.

According to a study soon to be published in the Journal of Epidemiology, the resistant bugs now exist in 48 states including Florida. Medical devices cleared by the Food and Drug Administration treat the lice with heat. It's hot enough to dehydrate and kill lice and their eggs, known as nits, but it doesn’t burn the scalp.

It’s a big task for a parent but it can be done by professionals in less than two hours. The cost to get lice professionally removed can be more than $150.
While lice outbreaks are common at every school. Some parents say it's a big price to pay for carelessness on picture day.

“It's a lot of time and money to get it cleaned up,” said one parent.

The Zoo School says they sanitize everything and check students often for lice but says they can't control all cases. It's an on and off problem throughout the year. Most children get lice outside of school.

Children with lice aren’t allowed back at school until they're removed. The school administration told us today there aren’t any kids with lice at the school.