Monday, January 29, 2007

Head Lice A.K.A. The Grade School Parasite

We had an infection of Head Lice in my House many years ago when my kids were still of the grade school ages and although I was never infected my self (Thank you Jesus for that one!) I can tell you that the process of getting rid of the little things was not pleasant.

The truth is that as parasites go, head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis)are pretty low-key. They don’t have complicated multi-host life cycles, and they don’t seem to carry any diseases (they leave that to their close relative the body louse, called pediculosis,. All head lice really do is scurry over human heads, drink blood, and lay eggs. But they can spread through a class of little kids like wildfire. Head lice are tiny insects that spend their entire lives on human heads. Females glue eggs to the base of hairs. After about a week, nymphs hatch out and start biting the scalp to get blood meals. They molt three times over a week or two, becoming sexually mature adults at the last molt. Adults can live about a month, and the females lay over 100 eggs during that time. But lice can’t survive very long away from their human hosts. If a louse falls off a person, it generally dies within a day or two. Their bodies are adapted to hanging on to hairs – their legs even have specialized curved claws that fit around hair shafts. And they don’t have wings. So they can only get from person to person by crawling. For that they need direct head-to-head contact.

Little kids are all about big hugs, leaning close, and sharing things (like hats) with their buddies. While this is all great we must remember that in this Weird World of ours our lovable little ones may sometimes they bring home more from school than just good feelings.

I’m Average Joe



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Joeffrey said...

The adult lice,gray or brown but not bigger than sesame. Nymphs hatch in about 1-2 weeks after the adult teeth, a little also. The most notable lice feed on blood several times a day, but as long as they can not live two days on the scalp.

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