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The impact of well-developed preventative strategies on the eradication of head lice

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2009
Authors:J. Ibarra, Fry, F., Wickenden, C., Jenner, M., Franks, A.
Journal:Perspectives in Public Health
Volume:129
Issue:4
Pagination:165 - 173
Date Published:July 2009
ISSN:1757-9139
Keywords:Bug Busting, co-ordinated detection, head lice, Paddy Donaldson, prevention strategy
Abstract:

In the 1970s Donaldson applied the principles of infectious disease surveillance to pediculosis capitis infestation with head lice. This provided a lasting insight into an effective strategy for prevention. Research in Teesside, UK, proved that the first step in breaking the chain of transmission is the engagement of parents in an intensive detection/treatment campaign. United action halved the infestation rate, even though failing lindane treatments were in use. Subsequently although effective malathion treatment was introduced, it became clear that the late detection of light cases of head lice still undermines eradication.
This paper analyzes the development by the health charity, Community Hygiene Concern, of the Bug Busting programme based on this solid evidence. In the 1990s the charity solved the problem of detecting asymptomatic lice using a specially designed Bug Buster louse comb in wet, conditioned hair. It undertook the popularization of this method and the co-ordination of national detection days (Bug Busting Days) through primary schools.
In 2004 this structured approach to prevention was adopted in Chester. It produced a 24% reduction in health authority spending on treatment products in the first year and appreciable savings in professional time.
It is concluded that participation in the Bug Busting programme benefits community health providers and schools. Provision of dependable detection combs with the correct instructions to families at risk, empowers them to gain sustainable, cost-effective control of head lice.

URL:http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1466424008094804
DOI:10.1177/1466424008094804
Short Title:Perspect Public Health
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