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Treatment Resistant 'Super Lice' Even Harder To Kill

Update Date: Mar 16, 2014 12:24 AM EDT

Dreaded bugs are stronger than ever, according to a new research. In the study, researchers have warned consumers about the prevalence of head lice that have become resistant to insecticides found in commonly used anti-lice shampoos and ointments. 

They study further found that the "super lice" variations existed in around 99.6 per cent of U.S. lice cases and around 97 per cent in Canadian lice cases. 

Researchers added that the so-called "TI mutation" had no effect of the insecticides such as pyrethrins and pyrethroids - insecticides that have been safely used to kill off critters.

Statistically researchers found from DNA analysis that prevalence of the TI mutation is "uniformly high" across North America.

"Alternative approaches to treatment of head lice infestations are critically needed," researchers wrote.

"Lice isn't dangerous, but it is very, very contagious. And it can be very itchy and annoying for our patients," said Dr. Allison Driansky, of Cohen Children's Hospital, according to Gothamist.

Notably, this is not the first time researchers have found the alarming percentage of treatment-resistant lice in their studies. In 2010, another Canadian study also found that 97 percent of tested lice were resistant to pyrethrins or pyrethroids. 

Just like some bacteria develop a resistance to antibiotics from overuse, lice have built up tolerance to widely used insecticides, said Jason Tetro, a microbiologist who was not involved in the study, according to CTV News.

"Over the last 60 years, it's gone worldwide," he said.

"You will kill some lice, leaving the more resistant lice to breed and create more resistant lice," added J. Marshall Clark, the author of a recent study on the super lice in the press release.

Findings of the research has been published in this month's Journal of Medical Entomology.

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