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Head Louse

Geographical distribution of head lice

  • World-wide, including all developed nations.

Special situations favoring head lice infestations

  • Schools and day-care centers in which children are in frequent, close contact.
  • Contact with infested clothing, hats, combs, scarves, audio devices, and cell phones.

Location of head lice infestations

  • The fine hairs of the head, but occasionally in eyebrows.
  • NOTE: Eggs are laid at the base of head hairs.

Spread of head lice

  • Contact with infested people and infested items (see above).

Symptoms of head louse infestation

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

Public health risk of head lice

  • Severe nuisances and social embarrassment.
  • Potential for secondary infections associated with sores.
  • NOTE: There is no known involvement of head lice as vectors of disease agents.

Control of head lice

  • Avoid contact with infested people.
  • Avoid contact with infested items.
  • If possible, remove eggs and lice with fingers or a "nit" comb.
  • For specific chemical control, refer to CDC recommendations and see a physician.

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