Head lice are spread through direct head-to-head contact with an infested person. From each egg or "nit" may hatch one nymph that will grow and develop to the adult louse. Lice feed on blood once or more often each day by piercing the skin with their tiny needle-like mouthparts. Lice cannot burrow into the skin.
The most characteristic symptom of infestation is pruritus (itching) on the head which normally intensifies 3 to 4 weeks after the initial infestation. The bite reaction (Fig. 5) is very mild and it can be rarely seen between the hairs.
The most common symptom of lice infestation is itching. Excessive scratching of the infested areas can cause sores, which may become infected. In addition, body lice can be a vector for louse-borne typhus, louse-borne relapsing fever or trench fever.
Examination of the child’s head at regular intervals using a louse comb allows the diagnosis of louse infestation at an early stage. Early diagnosis makes treatment easier and reduces the possibility of infesting others. In times and areas when louse infestations are common, weekly examinations of children, especially those 4–13 yrs old, carried out by their parents will aid control.
Head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis) are not known to be vectors of diseases, unlike body lice(Pediculus humanus humanus), which are known vectors of epidemic or louse-borne typhus (Rickettsia prowazeki), trench fever (Rochalimaea quintana) and louse-borne relapsing fever (Borrellia recurrentis).
This condition, is caused by body louse (Pediculus humanus humanus, sometimes called Pediculus humanus corporis) is a louse which infests humans and is adapted to lay eggs in clothing, rather than at the base of hairs, and is thus of recent evolutionary origin. Pediculosis is a more serious threat due to possible contagion of diseases such as typhus. Epidemiology and treatment of human body lice is described in the article on body lice.
The pubic or crab louse (Phthirus pubis) is a parasitic insect which spends its entire life on human hair and feeds exclusively on blood. Humans are the only known host of this parasite, although it is more closely related to the louse parasites in other primate species, than are human head or body lice which probably evolved from it as the "original" louse infestation of humans. Epidemiology and treatment of public lice is discussed in the article on pubic lice.
Pediculosis is more common in cattle than any other type of domesticated animal. This is a significant problem, as it can cause weight loss of 55 to 75 pounds per animal. Some species of lice infesting cattle include the cattle biting louse[Damalinia (Bovicola) bovis], the shortnosed cattle louse (Haematopinus eurysternus), the longnosed cattle louse (Linognathus vituli), and the little blue cattle louse (Solenopotes capillatus).