Holgate bars kids with lice from pool

Lifeguards watch the Holgate Community Pool, which has received complaints of head lice.
Lifeguards watch the Holgate Community Pool, which has received complaints of head lice.

Mayor Jim Junge said a new directive sending children with head lice away from the Holgate community pool isn't meant to embarrass anyone.

Instead, the leader of this 1,200-resident community just hopes to keep the tiny pests away.

“It was brought to our attention that kids were coming in with head lice,” Mr. Junge said. “For the health, safety, and welfare of the community, I mentioned to the pool manager that if you know for 100 percent that somebody has lice, go ahead and send them home.”

According to the National Pediculosis Association, swimming with someone who has lice is not likely to lead to transmission. But the sharing and piling of towels and other personal items may cause the parasite to spread.

Mr. Junge said that while researching the issue, he heard from a parent who said her children once picked up lice in the baby's portion of a community pool, where chlorine and filtration are less strong.

Swimmers won't be screened upon entry, but the mayor has instructed employees to check those with signs of lice.

“We wanted to handle it real simple and easy and not cause any real embarrassment for anybody,” Mr. Junge said. “I think with the awareness now, parents are realizing that they probably shouldn't send their kids to the pool right now.”

County Health Commissioner Hans Schmalzried said he has not made any recommendations about how to handle lice at the pool. Local communities can decide individually how to handle lice at the pool, he said.

While calling other municipalities with community pools, Mr. Junge said he determined that most do not have a policy specific to head lice. Instead, the parasite is treated like any other contagious health risk.

Mr. Schmalzried said lice does not fall under those circumstances in the Ohio Administrative Code that would prevent someone from using a community swimming pool.

People with an infectious wound, however, can be barred.

He said parents who have discovered their children have contracted lice can get help from the health department.

“If folks have had a problem with lice, we have services available at the health department that they can tap into,” he said.