Nightmare on Mic-Street IV  (Page 4)                             [ Go to start of article? ]


S.O.S... sos... sos... - - - ... - - - ... - - - sos ... sos - - - sos ... sos - - - sos ... sos - - - sos ... "we need help..."

"I knew right then we were going to have to get some special help from somewhere... or our relationship was going to fall apart!"
S.O.S... sos... sos... - - - ... - - - ... - - - sos ... sos - - - sos ... sos - - - sos ... sos - - - sos ... "we need help..."
That morning, Van told me she had been dreaming about lice all night. I told her that I thought we still had them. We couldn't face it right away. Van dressed up a bit and we went out for a few drinks. We brought a bottle of wine back and had a few more glasses (dutch courage, I guess) and I picked my way thru Van's hair.She was a bit sloshed, which is unusual for her, but she set up the microscope and put some hairs on a slide. When she checked them out... sure enough - we still had the damn lice !  We only just managed to avoid blaming each other but I could see if this went on much longer, we would be accusing each other for re-infestation!  Now this may seem a bit melodramatic to you but just see it from my point of view. We were going to work thinking any moment someone would shout out - "Hey, Larry..." or "Hey Vanessa... what's that thing moving around on your head?!"

Sure, they would need sharp eyes, but the lice are visible (just) if you've got good eyesight. And then there was this growing problem between me and Van; how would you fancy snuggling up to someone full of lice. Get my point? That's how me and Van were starting to think about each other.

It was time to get down to real business and find out why we weren't getting rid of them.

Van told me she had bought more shampoo and lotion and had used it several  times over the week at her flat. I told her I'd done the same. 

I went and fetched the bottle to read what was in it and check to see if it killed Lice and eggs (we were thinking maybe we were still getting problems because the eggs were hatching). Meanwhile, Van put the computer on and 'hit' the web. 

"We need help with this," she said. "Let's see if I can find an expert on lice out there who can tell us what we are doing wrong."


I left her surfing the web. What I needed to do was carry out a little experiment to get some important data for when she tracked down someone with the knowledge to help.

S.O.S... sos... sos... - - - ... - - - ... - - - sos ... sos - - - sos ... sos - - - sos ... sos - - - sos ... "we need help..."    

The lotion and shampoo we'd been using both seemed to contain a killer ingredient based on the same chemical: pyrethroid insecticides!

And the label said it killed eggs!

I searched around in Van's hair and found a freshly hatched louse, still well gorged on her blood, and put it on a piece of paper. 

Next, I took a big drop of lotion from the bottle and dropped it onto the louse so it was swimming around in the stuff!


I left it for a good 4 or 5 minutes. It went very
still so I obviously thought the stuff had killed it.    I filmed it with my camera at 100x mag. Then as I was about to switch off, Vanessa called for me to come over to the computer...     S.O.S... sos... sos... - - - ... - - - ... - - - sos ... sos - - - sos ... sos - - - sos ... sos - - - sos ... "we need help..."    

She sent messages for help to our friends at Mic-UK & elsewhere...
Andrew... Jan... Bill... Anne... Dave..Marly...Mike..Wim...Mol...


"I've found a Professor Richard Speare in Australia who seems to be an expert on head-lice," she said excitedly... "I have tracked down his WEB PAGE and his EMAIL address..."

I reached over her shoulder to look at what she was gazing at on the monitor. On the screen was one hell of a SEM image... it was a close-up of a Head-Louse penis.. (or so Van said, when I asked her). "He wrote a paper some years back.  He thinks some strains of Head Lice are becoming resistant to the insecticides we use to treat them..." she gasped!
I told her, "Send him an email, honey, and see if he's still contactable via the web." Then remembering I had left my camera running, I went back to it. Gee... did I get a shock: the louse I thought was dead
had got up and was running around. Sure it was a bit jerky on its legs but within minutes it was 100% okay. The insecticide hadn't affected it! Click below to see what I saw!


I wasn't certain how long the stuff was supposed to take to kill it. "Van, ask him in your email how long this stuff takes to kill 'em." I shouted to her across the room.
Six hours later, the louse died.. . as did all the young ones I had taken from Van's hair. I reckoned they died due to lack of  food (blood), and I also reckoned their was no difference made by the insecticide we used, but I couldn't be sure unless Professor Speare wrote back.   S.O.S... sos... sos... - - - ... - - - ... - - - sos ... sos - - - sos ... sos - - - sos ... sos - - - sos ... "we need help..."   And then it came through - an email from Prof. Richard Speare... like light in the darkness. His email was friendly and showed great interest, but the final line said it all. It said: - "...Mobile lice ("climbers") should die within 20 minutes for permethrin, pyrethrins, and malathion. If they don't, they are resistant." ...regards, Rick.  

There was no doubt: me and Van had Super-Lice! We looked at each other in desperation, both thinking the same thing, like... what the hell do we do now? We chatted to our friends on the web and read up some more before deciding on a strategy.  


Van would stay with me at my place so we could  minimize the work we would have to do to get rid of the pests. First of all we'd need some better tools. Take my advice here if you get lice... don't bother with those plastic nit combs. Let me show you what happens when you really have to use them in earnest... 
Yup, the teeth break off in no time at all. I put a sewing needle on this one so you can get an idea of scale.


What you have to buy is one of these with metal teeth... because it holds out over the weeks you are going to be using it! Be extra careful when using this type though, because you don't want to 'spike' your head with it. At least the plastic combs 'give-in' instead of stabbing you in the scalp when you are in a rush.

sos... sos... - - - ... - - - ... - - - sos ... sos - - - sos ... sos - - - sos ... sos - - - sos ... "we need help..."



  What do you do then?  Well this is what we did. We washed out hair in a light shampoo (not an insecticide one)  every 2nd or 3rd day, leaving the lather on for a good 5 or 10 minutes before combing through very thoroughly with the nit comb while our hair was still wet. 

We washed the comb well after each use in very hot running water and scrubbed it with an old toothbrush to keep it free of eggs.  


We changed our pillow cases every week, washing the used ones in the washing machine... and we changed our clothes every day - everything! Although my suit was an exception, it went to the dry cleaners once a week. Oh... yeh... and we used the vacuum cleaner around the perimeter of the bed every day.

"We practised this very disciplined regime for 3 weeks before we were rid of them.   It was hard work and we got really fed up with it all . Our relationship got a bit strained... but we won through!"

  I guess there was a few plus sides to this experience... once the nightmare was over....     [ Go to start of article? ]     [Continue Nightmare]     [Wake-up]   SEE CREDITS FOR THIS ARTICLE (c) Microscopy UK & Micscape magazine Contributors 1998 All rights reserved in the interest of the contributors, Visit Larry and Vanessa's Web-site to exlore their microcosmic world  
Write to us: Larry or Vanessa

"Oh yeh, Van is very musical - unlike me (I'm tone deaf)! She wrote all the midi stuff for these pages. Can you hear the SOS theme she weaved into this unusual number?  "    


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