Monday, November 12, 2012

This Is One Louse-y Blog

OK . Some of you may have been thinking that for awhile!!! BUT..... I mean this blog is about the louse or if you have more than one lice. So even if you think this blog is lousy - it will also be louse-y . Why would I suddenly decide to discuss lice? No I do not have lice. But kids are back in school and bless their little heads - they share everything including head lice.
But before I tell you how to rid your home and head of lice .. I thought I'd share some fun historical and louse-y facts.

When your child comes home with dreaded head lice letter from school, the humans in the house are the only mammals in the home that need worry. So your dog, cat, rabbit ,or other furry friends will not be affected by those pesky lice.Yeah!!! It's hard enough treating your kids hair, your hair and all the clothes and bedding - so now you know you don't have to wrangle and bathe the cat!!! (if you have never bathed a cat ... well just think of yourself as scratching post as the little darling gets near the tub)

Lice were here first. Yep, long before the modern human the louse existed. ( I know I could insert a good Adam and Eve comment here about the louse coming first but Let's just move onward)

In the 17th century, the aristocrats of Europe leaned proper etiquette. So along with the dancing  and  appropriate dinner conversation topics - one learned the proper etiquette for disposing or one's lice. Icky!!

Lice for the most part cause few health problems.The main danger with lice ( body lice and not head lice) is epidemic typhus. Let me repeat this ... body lice not head lice - so do not freak out when your child comes home with the letter. The louse ,itself, is not immune to the infection. An infected louse turns red and dies within a few weeks of infection, but not before it bites and infects its human host. Now her is the really gross part , before dying the louse can poop out millions of typhus bacteria which hang on clothing and infecting other people who never had a body louse near them.

Typhus decimated the Grand Armee of Napoleon in 1812 from 500,000 to 35,000. This kept Napoleon from conquering Russia.

 During the Peloponnesian Wars, Pericles , Athen's leader decide to enclose the city in 431 BCE to withstand a Spartan siege.The dwelling of Athens were packed with not only it's citizens but those from the countryside. A plague exploded throughout Athens, Pericles died as did much of his army. Thus ended the golden age age of Greek culture

In 1526, The French army had to end it's siege of Naples because typhus had killed 28,000 of its army. The failure to take Naples left Italy and the papacy in Spain's power. The pope at the time,Clement VII< to avoid angering Charles V of Spain, declined to grant Henry VIII's divorce request from Catherine of Aragon  and thanks to a louse the Protestant Reformation was born.

In the Middle Ages in Hurdenburg, Sweden, candidates rested their bearded chins on table and a louse placed on the table chose the mayor for the next year. ( who needs elections ?)

Young Siberian woman threw lice at attractive men as offer of marriage. ( how guys went from having a louse tossed at them to buying honking big diamond rings - well that's evolution for ya!!!)

So now - You have received the dreaded "Lice Letter". Does that mean you're a louse-y parent? Nope!! Kids love to share - clothes, hats, brushes ,etc and alas head lice. Away from people ,lice will usually die within three to ten days. So want do you do ?

1. Wash all bed linens and washable clothing in HOT (140 degree) water for 20 minutes.
2. Heat dry clothing or other fabric items in clothes dryer.
3.Items that cannot be washed or dry cleaned should be stored for 30 days in sealed plastic bags. ( make sure they are tightly sealed - not lice in and no lice out)
4. Use only insecticides approved for use against lice. Read and follow the instructions.
5. If you bring in garments to be professionally cleaned or washed - please remember that lice jump from clothing and seal those garments in a plastic bag and let us know.
6. DO NOT be embarrassed. Lice does not equal bad hygiene. Lice is just one of those passages of childhood and heck lice are just part of the human experience.

So now you know all about lice and what to do if your kids come home with head lice. And one last thought to ponder, A person's DNA in a louse's belly can be identified. So think of the implications for forensic investigations?

And that my friends concludes this month's Louse-y blog!!! Should we all say "Ick" together?

And for those of you who wonder - how does she know so much about lice ? ( all kinds of louse-y life jokes can be inserted here) . I read a great article in " Scientific American" by Emily Willingham with a title I wanted to steal "Of Lice and Men :  An Itchy History." Also, you can go to the DLI link on our website and get more information on dealing with your clothing, bed linens and pillows infested with lice or other disgusting pests. Information on typhus ( remember most of us are vacinated for typhoid as children) go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.