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Byline: ByAbby Alford South Wales Echo

An assembly member today called on education bosses to tackle the plague of head lice he claims is raging in a county's schools.

Carwyn Jones said an increasing number of parents are telling him their children are becoming infested up to three times a month.

He said many were also upset their Bridgend schools did not send out alert letters when a case was detected.

'Parents are becoming increasingly frustrated that their children are coming home with head lice regularly. I want the local education authority (LEA) and schools to start looking at the problem and to try to find a more effective way forward.'

Mr Jones, Bridgend AM and a father of two, added: 'I also think we need to look hard at the policy of not informing parents to see if this is effective. Nobody wants to stigmatise children, but a way forward has to be found to give parents reassurance.'

Mum-of-seven Jeanie Sellers, of Bridgend, who has four children in primary school, said: 'I am with Carwyn Jones on this one because it's a huge problem. You get rid of them and then a few weeks later they are scratching again.

'It's all right saying it's parents' responsibility, but I would like the schools to send out letters if there is a case because if you catch head lice early they are much easier to treat. If you leave it for just a few days you have a massive problem.'

A spokesman for Bridgend's LEA said: 'We have issued guidance on identifying and remedying lead lice to all schools and headteachers have the power to make parents aware of an outbreak if necessary.

'However, parents often discover the presence of head lice in their children before school staff do and alert other parents.'

Wendy Hinton, Bro Morgannwg NHS Trust's school health nurse manager for Bridgend, said her team of six nurses did give talks on the problem in all of the county's schools.

But she said there was no need for the reintroduction of the famous nit nurses - abolished 20 years ago - because she feels the problem is no worse than it used to be.

'Head lice are way down our list of priorities,' she said.

'Nobody has ever died from them, but young people have died of drug overdoses and excess alcohol consumption, so that is what we focus on preventing.' ADVICE TO PARENTS: Once a week, run a special detection comb through children's hair while it is wet.

If moving lice are found, treat with an insecticidal lotion such as Derbac-M, Quellada-M, Prioderm, Suleo-M. Two treatments must be applied seven days apart.

Check rest of family, but only treat if moving lice are found.

Inspect hair on day nine.

If live lice are found, repeat treatment with another lotion such as Lyclear Creme Rinse, Full Marks Lotion, Full Marks Mousse, Full Marks Liquid.

Parents are NOT advised to use herbal remedies such as tea tree oil because they can be toxic.

If over-the-counter treatments fail, remove lice manually with a detection comb every fourth day for two weeks.

More help and information is available from your school nurse.

Alternatively, a free National Assembly booklet called The Facts About Head Lice is available by telephoning 029 2082 5410. WHAT DO OTHER COUNCILS DO?: A Caerphilly council spokeswoman said: 'When a child is admitted to school parents receive the Facts About Head Lice booklet.

'We also liaise with our communicable infection and disease control GP, Dr Nehaul, before giving advice to parents and schools.

'Each school has its own arrangements for informing and advising parents on outbreaks of head lice - guidance from the authority is they should not single out parents of one or more children, but should send out a blanket letter to all parents re-enforcing standard practices.'

A Rhondda Cynon Taf council spokeswoman said: 'RCT and the local health board have a jointly agreed policy in place on managing head lice.

'Our document, Keep A Clear Head, is a guidebook for schools that contains information on what to look out for and practical advice on how to manage the issue should it arise.

'If a case occurs, the LEA and health board work in partnership with the school and parents, with added support from a nurse, if necessary.

'Letters are sent to parents informing them of the situation and suggesting the steps they need to take.'
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 24, 2006
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