Head lice are tiny insects that feed on blood from the human scalp. An infestation of head lice most often affects children and usually results from the direct transfer of lice from the hair of one person to the hair of another. Several of the infectious diseases associated with human lice are life-threatening, including epidemic typhus, relapsing fever, and trenchfever, which are caused by Rickettsia prowazekii, Borrelia recurrentis, and Bartonella quintana, respectively. Although these diseases havebeen known for several centuries, they remain a major public health concern in populations living in poor-hygiene conditions because of war, social disruption, severe poverty, or gaps in public health management. Poor-hygiene conditions favour a higher prevalence of bodylice, which are the main vectors for these diseases. Trench fever has been reported in both developing and developed countries in populations living in poor conditions, such as homeless individuals. In contrast, outbreaks of epidemic typhus and epidemic relapsing feverhave occurred in jails and refugee camps in developing countries. However, reports of a significantly high seroprevalence for epidemictyphus and epidemic relapsing fever in the homeless populations of developed countries suggest that these populations remain at highrisk for outbreaks of these diseases. Additionally, experimental laboratory studies have demonstrated that the body louse can transmitother emerging or re-emerging pathogens, such as Acinetobacter baumannii and Yersinia pestis. Therefore, a strict survey of louse-bornediseases and the implementation of efficient delousing strategies in these populations should be public health priorities.
FAST FACTS ON HEAD LICE
- Head lice are tiny insects that live on the scalp, usually on children aged 10 years and under.
- They can move easily between hairs, at a rate of 9 inches a minute, but they cannot fly or jump.
- The lice need human blood to survive, and they starve within 2 days if they are removed from their host.
- Head lice are usually caught directly from another person through direct head-to-head contact. Pets do not play a role.
- Treatment involves over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medication, but resistance to these treatments is growing
- Itching, the most common symptom of all types of lice infestation, is caused by an allergic reaction to louse saliva.
- Itching is the most common symptom of an infestation.
- This is due to an allergic reaction to louse saliva. Some people are extremely sensitive to louse bites and have severe itching. Others are not allergic to the saliva, or they build up a tolerance and have little or no itching, even with repeated infestations.
- Other symptoms may include:- Tickling or a sensation of something moving in the hair, irritability and difficulty sleeping, sores on the head from scratching, swollen lymph nodes, or glands, pink eye
THE LOUSE LIFE CYCLE:-A louse goes through three stages:
- EGGS:-That hatch after six to nine days.
- NYMPHS:- Immature forms of the louse that become mature adults after nine to 12 days.
- ADULT LICE:-Which can live for three to four weeks. The female louse lays six to 10 eggs a day.
TREATMENT:- Several products are available over the counter (OTC) for treating head lice.
- OTC medications containing 1 percent permethrin or pyrethrins can be effective, although in some areas, the lice have developed a resistance to these products.
- Here is a list of medicines for head licethat are approved by the FDA. Check with a doctor before beginning treatment that medicines are given below.
- Permethrin cream (1%)
- Pyrethrin-based product
- Malathion lotion (0.5%)
- Benzyl alcohol lotion (5%)
- Spinosad topical suspension (0.9%).
- ivermectin lotion (0.5%)
- These products are known as pediculicides.
PREVENTION:- The following measures can help reduce the risk of finding head lice in the home:
(1):- Avoid head-to-head (hair-to-hair) contact during play and other activities at home, school, and elsewhere (sports activities, playground, slumber parties, camp)
(2)-Teaching children to avoid touching their head against those of other children during play.
(3):-Advising children not to share clothes, such as hats and scarves, as well as items including towels, hairbrushes, and headphones
(4):-Disinfecting any combs or brushes that have been used by a person who has had head lice
(5):-If a person with head lice has used a bed, couch, pillow, carpet, or stuffed animal, avoiding them
(6):-Thoroughly cleaning items that have had contact with the head of a person with a head lice infestation with hot water, such as bed linens and dry clothing
(7):-Vacuuming any floor space or furniture previously occupied by a person with head lice, as the lice will die if they cannot feed
(8):-Checking each family member for head lice a week after treatment.
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