Fear not. The lice outbreak that had many students in a near-panic was successfully stopped by the separation of students during Thanksgiving break. The break offered any infected students the opportunity to go home and treat themselves. Karen Mumbert, Assistant Director of Health Services, says that she is “impressed by the willing students” who were “very diligent” when it came to treating their lice.
But what should you do in the event of another outbreak? Lice cannot fly or jump, which is why outbreaks are only seen where there is “close living,” according to Mumbert. This mean that to protect yourself, you should vacuum any floors or couches that infected people have used, refrain from sharing hats, combs, or brushes, or any of the other numerous suggestions offered at the Health Center or on the Center for Disease Control’s website.
Or, you can use the following suggestions offered by your fellow students, all of which have been proven to work.
- Be aware of your surroundings. “A kid at fencing had it,” said sophomore Heidi Ewing. “I didn’t go to fencing at all that week”
- Be careful of the people with whom you associate. “We just stayed away from dirty people,” said sophomore Amelia Lynch. Her roommate, sophomore Megan Tawes, added, “We checked each other’s heads a lot.”
- Do not allow any of your things to touch those of an infected person. Freshman Sara Manchester’s roommate had lice, so she said, “I sprayed down the room, went to the health center, and made sure nothing of mine in the room touched hers.”
- Follow the example set by your Residence Assistants. “I saw some of the PG RA’s wearing swim caps and gloves during checkout,” said sophomore Brian Van Parys.
- Do not necessarily rely on the help of your parents. On returning home, sophomore Anna Kasicky told her mother that there had been an outbreak of lice and “she freaked out. She checked my head three times and put my clothes in a bag. My mother wouldn’t let me wash my clothes in the house. She told me I had to use the laundromat in the city!”
- Drastic times call for drastic measures. When four of the six people in his suite contracted lice, sophomore Danny Patrick Thomas Ruthenburg-Marshall took a few extra steps to prevent himself from becoming infected. “Sheets were down to one use, towels were down to one use. I washed everything I ever touched. I sprayed de-lousing stuff. I treated my hair anyway. I trimmed my torso hair!” The result? “No lice,” he said.
The College did all it could to prevent the lice from spreading. The Health Center worked with Housekeeping through Residence Life in an effort to be sure that all shared living areas were sufficiently clean, says Mumbert.
According to Mumbert, because lice seem to spread more between friendship and relationships than actual geography, the Health Center has no way of knowing where the outbreak originated on campus.