A lice-treatment expert in the US says that she has observed a dramatic spike in the incidence of head lice and that the selfie sensation – where teenagers crush together to squeeze into self-portraits - is to blame.
Marcy McQuillan says "Head lice are spread through head-to-head contact.
"Lice don't jump or fly, so you actually have to touch heads.
"Every teen I've treated, I ask about selfies, and they admit that they are taking them every day."
But McQuillan, who runs two lice-treatment centres in California, has been accused of making the comments as part of a publicity stunt.
Dr. Richard J. Pollack from the Harvard School of Public Health and an expert in pest identification says McQuillan was just trying to promote her business. " Wherever these louse salons open a new branch, there always seems to be an epidemic" he told NBC News.
"It's good for business.
"This is a marketing ploy, pure and simple."
Pollack says there is no evidence of an uptick in head lice in the US and of more concern is the issue of businesses scaring parents and taking advantage of their fears to make money.
"I'm trying to prevent people from over-treating," he said. "People should not be using insecticides on their kids unless there really is a reason to use them."
But McQuillan says that her client-base has shifted to older patients.
"Here's the problem, we're getting more of the high school and college kids than middle schoolers," she said.
"I've seen a huge increase of lice in teens this year. Typically it's younger children I treat, because they’re at higher risk for head-to-head contact. But now, teens are sticking their heads together every day to take cell phone pics."
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