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Body Louse

Geographical distribution of body lice

  • Temperate regions and high elevations of Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

Situations favoring bodylice infestations

  • Crowded and unsanitary conditions associated with disasters such as war, hurricanes, and earthquakes.

Location of body lice infestations

  • On or in clothing, especially woolens.
  • NOTE: Body lice typically do not live directly on the human body.
  • NOTE: Eggs typically are glued onto clothing fibers, usually along seams, but occasionally on body hairs.

Spread of body lice

  • Primarily via contact with infested people.
  • Also via lice leaving a person with a high fever and crawling to a nearby individual.
  • Potentially via contact with infested clothing and bedding.

Symptoms of body louse infestation

  • Itching and irritability.
  • Excessive scratching, resulting in scab-covered sores and secondary bacterial and fungal infections.

Public health risk of body lice

  • Severe nuisances and social embarrassment.
  • Vectors of three different disease agents in certain regions of the world.

Control of body lice

  • Avoid contact with infested people, clothing, and bedding.
  • Infested items should be washed at 130 degrees F. and dried in a clothes drier at high temperature.
  • For specific chemical control, refer to CDC recommendations and see a physician.

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