Tragic Child Neglect Case in Georgia Demonstrates How Misinformation Leads to Confusion & Fear
“It is extremely unlikely that the case of head lice specifically contributed to the child’s death.” — Pediatric Hair Solutions President/Owner Sheila Fassler, RN.
At Pediatric Hair Solutions, one of our goals is to educate the public with medical facts about head lice, how to prevent it and how to treat head lice when you or a family member gets it. We have battled myths that imply that head lice only happens to people with poor hygiene and can lead to danger for more than a decade. We believe these misconceptions perpetrate unnecessary shame, fear, and anxiety and it’s our goal to stop it.
The overwhelming amount of head lice misinformation found online and even in the mainstream media has led to confusion for many parents, childcare workers, and sometimes even medical examiners. We recently came across a heartbreaking news story about the tragic death of twelve-year-old Kaitlyn Yozviak in Georgia. The Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) stated that this child had “the most severe” lice infestation they had ever seen and implied that head lice contributed to her death, however, we feel that this is highly unlikely.
“It is extremely unlikely that the case of head lice specifically contributed to the child’s death,” says Pediatric Hair Solutions President/Owner Sheila Fassler, RN. “In my medical opinion, after 34 years of nursing and 10 years treating head lice cases from all socio-economic ranges, head lice alone was not the cause of death. The squalid living conditions and neglect look more to be the cause.”
Medical records show Kaitlyn died from cardiac arrest with a secondary cause being severe anemia, and we feel it is a disservice to imply that head lice would have led to the death of this young girl. While it is true that lice feed exclusively on human blood 5-6 times each day by biting the scalp, it would not have caused anemia nor would it have triggered cardiac arrest.
We’re speaking out on this story because we want to stop the spread of misinformation that contributes to irrational and sometimes dangerous decisions parents make when they discover head lice. Every time a panicked parent calls our office, the first thing we do is to calm them down. There is no reason to panic because head lice is not life-threatening, but it will not go away on its own either. The best way to treat head lice is by learning the facts so you can make responsible, scientifically driven decisions on your course of treatment.
Fact: Lice are human parasites and cannot live off the human host for more than 24 to 48 hours.
Fact: Head lice is spread through direct, head-to-head contact. This can occur at home, school, the playground, camp, through selfies, etc.
Fact: Head lice can affect anyone at any time. Personal hygiene is not a factor.
Fact: Head lice are a nuisance but are not dangerous. They do not carry any type of disease nor will it lead to death.
About Pediatric Hair Solutions:
Pediatric Hair Solutions is Doctor and Nurse owned and operated. Sheila Fassler, RN, is the owner and John Fassler, MD, is the Medical Director. Sheila’s nursing and school health background, along with Dr. John Fassler’s medical background combine to provide families with safe, effective and professional care. 98% of lice have developed resistance to over-the-counter and prescription treatments, resulting in an effectiveness rate as low as 20%. Unlike these products, our professional device uses controlled, heated air, which is completely safe and proven to be more than 99% effective.