In recent months, a new strain of lice has been reported in 25 different states. This strain is being called “super lice”, due to its drastic differences from traditional cases. Lice, in general, is very easily transmitted from one person to the next and can be passed even if your heads are too close together. Think about your business. Your employees are around each other all the time, often collaborating or working in close quarters. If just one employee comes to the office with a case of lice, it could spread to other employees rapidly. Because this new strain has been found all over the country, it is important to educate your workforce to prevent an outbreak, leading to a significant workforce continuity problem.
Why These Lice Are Different
Super lice look just like ordinary lice, except they have one distinguishing quality; they are genetically mutated versions of traditional lice and are immune to the over-the-counter (OTC) chemical pyrethoids, which have been used over the years. Kyong Yoon, Ph. D, stated that OTC treatments may still work, but higher doses may be needed to kill all eggs present. The FDA has approved a new treatment, AirAlle, which is now available and has been found to destroy this new breed of lice.
How Lice is Transmitted
Lice can infest in any part of the body that has hair. This includes armpits, eyebrows, arms, eyelashes, and pubic area. They cannot fly, so they crawl from person to person through close contact. Lice is transmitted through direct contact with the hair of an infested person. This means that if two people are close to each other and one has lice, the parasite can crawl from one head to the other. It can also be transmitted through hairbrushes, pillows or sheets, and hair accessories. Adult lice will also lay eggs in your hair, which will then hatch and produce baby lice.
Lice are very small and very difficult to detect. Combing the hair with a fine-toothed comb that is made especially for head lice is the best way to confirm an infestation. According to the CDC, itching is the most common symptom, but may take 4-6 weeks to appear for those who have never had lice before. Irritability, sleeplessness, and sores on the head or infested area are also common symptoms. If you or a family member are experiencing these symptoms, it is best to call your doctor to discuss the right path for treatment.
Workforce Continuity – What This Means For Your Business
In the TV show “The Office”, one of the main characters accidentally gets lice from her daughter and comes into the office without knowing it. Soon after, the entire office is infested with the bug. This could happen in your workplace if your employees are not properly educated on the symptoms and treatment of lice. Since the parasite can be spread so easily, it is imperative that employees who become infested stay home until they no longer have it. This could cause a huge loss to your workforce if an outbreak were to occur.
How To Prepare and Respond
A work-from-home plan should be implemented by your company to ensure that even though employees may have to be out of the office to prevent spreading the parasite, they are able to carry on their duties to keep operations running smoothly. Educate all employees on the symptoms of lice and the new treatments available to rid the hair completely of it. If your employees are not aware that OTC chemicals may not be enough to completely get rid of an infestation, they may use them and come back to work, unaware that they are still carriers.
Communicating your business’ work-from-home plan to all employees is essential in preventing the spread of lice, and any other contagious illnesses. If employees are aware that they have the option to work from home instead of coming into their workplace, they are more likely to stay home and not feel pressured to come in. This will ensure those who are infested will stay at home until they are completely better and will reduce the chance of a company-wide outbreak.
To learn more about workforce continuity and why it is important for your business, click here to watch a recording of our recent webinar.