Doctor Blames Selfies for Nationwide Head Lice Infestation

Obama Selfie (Roberto Schmidt / AFP / Getty)
Roberto Schmidt / AFP / Getty

A Wisconsin pediatrician set off a slight panic over the Internet when she blamed selfies for a nationwide lice infestation among teens and adolescents in 25 states. Since then, the transference of the parasitic louse has been dubbed “social media lice.”

Dr. Sharon Rink recently explained on a television show that “[L]ice can’t jump. So the only way they [teens] can transmit lice is touching their heads together, and that’s happening with all these [selfie] photos,” according to local CBS affiliate in San Francisco.

Rink said the selfies are resulting in teens having much more contact with other peoples’ heads in order to snap the perfect photo. “People are doing selfies like every day, as opposed to going to photo booths years and years ago.”

Yet, while the rise in treatment-resistant or “mutant lice” is a problem, selfies are reportedly not the culprit. CBS notes that the National Pediculosis Association told the Huffington Post there is no current data linking selfies to the current outbreak in 25 states.

Time magazine reportedly even suggested that all the excitement might be an attempt to boost business for de-lousing salons, which have become more commonplace. “What better marketing message than to alert the public to a new population of hosts for the ever-hungry louse?”

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz and on Facebook.


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