A Lousy, Nit-Picking Epidemic

A hair-raising plague of head lice has descended on America's schoolkids. What can stop it?

The school had been invaded, and officials were banning brushes and putting coats in plastic bags to seal off the points of attack. Five nurses worked all morning on the heads of 600 children at the Rachel Carson Elementary School in Gaithersburg, Md., spending five to seven minutes per scalp, looking for signs of infestation. In the end, 12% of the students and 10% of the staff were sent home. It was the worst invasion of head lice in a long time. "In other years we have two, sometimes four cases of lice," says Laura Hart Silkwood, the principal. "This is...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!