Chronic head lice problems are continuing in Utah schools, said Craig Nichols, state epidemiologist.

It's been a five-year plague. Lice, parasites that live on human hosts, are most commonly spread through close contact, such as sharing hair brushes, hats or even beds. To understand how easily lice can spread, "all you need to do is go to an elementary school and see how close kids sit together and see the wrestling, the playing, the close contact and the slumber parties," Nichols said.Nichols said some state school districts have taken creative steps to halt the spread of lice, such as having each student supply a garbage bag to encase their own hat and coat on classroom hooks.

Lice usually live in hair, and the major symptom of the disease is severe scalp itching.

Nichols said reports of lice infestation seem to increase in winter.