Calvert County Health Department
Head lice are very common in pre-school and elementary school children and their household members and caregivers. Anyone can get head lice as it is not related to the cleanliness of a person or of their environment. Individual head lice cases are not reportable to the health department as lice are not known to transmit disease.
Head lice are spread by direct contact with the hair of an infected person. Contact can occur while playing or attending slumber parties. Transmission can also occur by sharing combs, brushes, clothes, hats and towels of an infested person.
Both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) advocate that "no-nit" policies should be discontinued. "No-nit" policies that require a child to be free of nits before they can return to schools should be discontinued for the following reasons:
- Many nits are more than ¼ inch from the scalp. Such nits are usually not viable and very unlikely to hatch to become crawling lice, or may in fact be empty shells, also known as 'casings'.
- Nits are cemented to hair shafts and are very unlikely to be transferred successfully to other people.
The burden of unnecessary absenteeism to the students, families and communities far outweighs the risks associated with head lice.
- Misdiagnosis of nits is very common during nit checks conducted by nonmedical personnel.
Read more about head lice at CDC.