Lice outbreak reported at Bluffton school

rheaton@beaufortgazette.comMarch 16, 2012 

  • Symptoms of a lice infestation include:

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Students and parents at Michael C. Riley Elementary School received an unpleasant surprise in a note sent home this week -- there's been a lice outbreak.

Principal Adrienne Sutton said nits, tiny lice eggs, have been discovered in the hair of about 60 of the school's 767 students since March 6. Two had live lice in their hair, Sutton said.

To stem the outbreak, all students were screened Friday by six district nurses dispatched to the school.

Sutton said that when nits were found in students' hair, their parents were called to the school and given tips on how to kill the insects.

"What we found is that a lot think if you just use the shampoo, that it's done," she said. "You have to actually comb everything out of your hair. We've used the opportunity to help educate parents so that the problem wouldn't get worse."

Students are sent home, but allowed to return after they are treated, Sutton said.

A letter was sent home Wednesday with students explaining the outbreak, which has been seen most among third-, fourth- and fifth-graders, Sutton said. The letter asked parents to check their children for nits and provided treatment tips in English and Spanish.

Sutton said lice outbreaks are typically seen in the fall or early summer. This year's mild winter may be to blame for the earlier outbreak, she said.

The letters were also emailed to other principals in the Beaufort County School District in case of similar outbreaks.

District spokesman Jim Foster said that, aside from M.C. Riley, only a few cases have been reported districtwide -- nothing "out of the ordinary," he said.

Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at

Related content

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on head lice
  2. Hair-raising problem: Local school battles lice infestation; June 1, 2008

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