Smart­phones be­hind rise in head lice

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

SMART­PHONES are fu­elling a dra­matic rise in head lice, ex­perts have warned.

Doc­tors say that when chil­dren gather in groups to peer at a tablet or cell­phone screen, the in­sects jump from one child’s head to the next.

Chil­dren own­ing a smart­phone or tablet are more than twice as likely to be in­fested, a sur­vey found.

The prob­lem peaked among chil­dren aged be­tween six and nine. Girls in this age group with sib­lings were the most com­monly af­fected, the re­searchers found.

The re­search, pre­sented at the Bri­tish As­so­ci­a­tion of Der­ma­tol­o­gists an­nual con­fer­ence in Liver­pool, sug­gests pre­vi­ous es­ti­mates of the preva­lence of head lice in Bri­tish chil­dren may be con­ser­va­tive.

The sur­vey found 45% of the chil­dren had head lice in the past five years, a longer pe­riod than cov­ered by ear­lier re­search.

Re­searcher Dr Tess McPher­son, of Ox­ford Univer­sity Hospi­tals NHS Trust, said: “Com­pared to pre­vi­ous es­ti­mates of head lice in­ci­dence, our fig­ures were much higher, which may not come as a sur­prise to par­ents.”

Matthew Gass, of the Bri­tish As­so­ci­a­tion of Der­ma­tol­o­gists, said: “If there’s an out­break at home or at school, con­sider how elec­tronic de­vices might cause chil­dren to con­gre­gate, al­low­ing head lice to spread.” – Daily Mail

SPREAD­ING: As kids gather around smart­phones and tablets, lice jump from child to child. PIC­TURE: EMILY VARISCO /AP

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