Uku are small, wingless parasites that live on human hair. They cannot fly or jump however, they have claws that allow them to crawl and cling firmly to hair. Living among human hair is vital to Uku because they feed on small amounts of blood drawn from the human scalp. Uku do not live long once they fall off a person. Because Uku need human heads to survive, they are highly contagious and spread quickly from person to person.
Symptoms and Treatment of Uku Infestations
The most common symptom of Uku is itching of the scalp. Uku bites cause itching and for some children, red bumps, sores, or bacterial infections can occur depending how sensitive your child’s skin is to Uku. Further, heavy scratching can lead to a bacterial infection (the skin would become read and tender and may have crusting and oozing along with swollen lymph glands). If you think your child may have an Uku infestation, take your child to his or her pediatrician for evaluation and treatment, especially if your child is two years or younger. Medicated treatments are not recommended for children two years or younger. It is important to know that catching an Uku infestation is not a sign of poor hygiene. Uku can be a problem for children of all ages and socioeconomic levels, regardless of how often they bathe or wash their hair.
Preventing Uku Infestation
Uku are spread through close head-to-head contact or sharing of personal items. Tell children not to share personal care items such as combs, brushes, towels, helmets, hats, or scarves with anyone else. Also, tell children to avoid head-to-head contact while playing at home or in school with other children. Group activities such as slumber parties and camps are easy settings for Uku to spread. During slumber parties, children should not share bedding and pillows if someone with Uku has used them.
***For further detailed information about head lice prevention, infestation, and treatment please contact your physician, pediatrician, pharmacist, or, nurse. Notify your child’s school or Childcare Center director if you find that your child has an Uku infestation.
"Keep lice from ruining summer: The chance of contact increases when a child is staying at a camp.", Tulsa World (Tulsa, OK), June 17 2008 Issue