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article imageVideo: Extreme head lice infestation will make your flesh crawl

By JohnThomas Didymus     Oct 15, 2014 in Internet
A video clip posted to YouTube shows a mother removing hundreds of lice from her child's hair by drawing a fine-toothed comb through it. Prepare for skin crawling sights as this could be the most extreme case of head lice infestation you’ve ever seen.
At first you don't see the lice clearly, but as the camera zeroes in on the child's hair hundreds of squirming whitish parasites become visible. According to the Daily Mail, experts have confirmed that the tiny creatures are indeed lice, known scientifically as Pediculus humanus capitis.
The massive infestation of the girl's hair suggests that she has been infested for several months, making it a probable case of child neglect. Because not all lice cause itching some people may be infested with lice for months, even years, without realizing it.
Infestation with head lice is termed "pediculosis" by the medical profession, but people commonly refer to it as "having nits" or "having cooties."
Other forms of lice which infest humans include the body louse, Pediculus humanus humanus or Pediculus humanus corporis; and the crab louse or pubic louse, Pthirus pubis.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Dr Alejandra Perotti, an expert at the University of Reading's School of Biological Sciences, expressed shock at the heavy infestation shown in the video, but said, "They [lice] are very common in the UK and in Europe, but not to this level… these types of cases are found in cases of neglect of children or the elderly… [and] homeless people."
Lice live close to the scalp, surviving on the body warmth of the host, and feeding on blood. They can also burrow into the host's skin. They feed several times a day, using tiny piercing structures to draw blood. The piercing action can cause allergic reactions which lead to itching.
Itching often begins after about 3-4 weeks, although it could take longer. Infested individuals often have bite marks on the nape of their necks.
Lice multiply rapidly once they infest the scalp, with the female laying plenty of eggs at the base of the hair strand. A female can lay up to 10 eggs a day over a lifespan of 30 days. The eggs hatch within seven to ten days, producing other females who, in a few days, are also ready to begin laying eggs.
Heavy infestation of human hair can lead to "plica polonica," where the hair stick together, making it very difficult to brush. The condition is due to the female louse attaching her eggs to the host's hair strand using a sticky substance.
The video shows the effort the parent has to expend to run the comb through her child's hair due to the hair sticking together. Lice can also clump together into balls called nests in cases of heavy infestation.
According to experts, in cases of heavy infestation, getting rid of lice using over-the-counter chemical preparations is very difficult. An effective way to get rid of lice is cutting off all the hair. Cutting the hair helps to get rid of young lice, adults and eggs.
Lice infestation can also be treated using antibiotics which kill bacteria the lice harbor and which they need for survival.
Other effective methods of treatment include using insecticides such as pyrethrum or permethrin. Lice can also be expelled from hair using a nit comb, also called a bug buster. This is a fine-toothed comb which is able to expel lice and their eggs when run through wet infested hair.
Contrary to popular impression, head lice don't always result from unwashed hair and poor hygiene. Most cases of infestation occur through direct or indirect contact with the hair of a person infested with lice. Indirect contact occurs through sharing of combs, brushes, headgear and bedding. Contact must occur because lice do not jump or fly. That is why infestation is most common in places where many people live crowded together. It is thus most common in young children aged 3-10, especially among those living in school dormitories. Infestation is common enough among school children to be considered a public health concern.
CBS San Franciso Bay Area, for instance, reports a recent outbreak of lice infestation among children at the Bancroft Elementary school in Walnut Creek.
Young children suffering heavy infestation tend to be listless. Although lice are not known to transmit diseases, the multiple bites can make the host more prone to infections at the site of the bite wounds.
Girls have a higher incidence of infestation. Infestation is relatively rare among Black Africans and people of Black African descent due to the unique texture of their hair.
Infestation is also common in prisons and among troops living close together for prolonged periods in war zone.
Experts believe that a common means of transmission of lice in recent times is through selfies. When people use phones to snap selfies they stand close together, often with their heads touching. This provides an opportunity for lice to be transmitted between individuals.
People are thus advised to keep their head and hair away from others when taking selfies.
More about Lice, Infestation, Head lice, Pediculus capitis, crab louse
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