Head lice (Phthiraptera: Pediculidae: Pediculus humanus capitis) infestations in children and adults in Israel
Keywords:Phthiraptera, Pediculidae, Pediculus humanus capitis, Pediculus humanus, head louse, lice, epidemiology, medical entomology, survey
Head lice infestation is a public health challenge even in developed nations, and 4–14-year old children are most affected; information regarding the infestation rates of adults in developed countries is scarce. An Internet-based survey on lice infestation was distributed to mothers in Israel and their responses were analyzed. Out of 959 responders, 895 (93.3%) were mothers (73.7% with >12 years of education). Mothers were more often infested (59.2%) and more likely (3 times or more) to be infested during adulthood, compared to fathers or other family adults. Mothers of three or more children were infested more often than those with 1 or 2 children. Mothers who reported professional contact with children other than their own (child care staff, teachers etc.) were infested significantly more often than those who did not report such contact. In families with more than one child, the eldest sibling was infested significantly more often than his/her brothers and/or sisters. In families in which the eldest child was infested at least once, the subsequent children were significantly more often infested than children in families, where the eldest child was never infested. In 67.4% of families with children of both genders, girls were infested more often than boys; in 42.1% of all-boy families with more than one boy, one of the boys was infested more often than his brothers, while in 47.6% of the all-girl families with more than one girl, one of the girls was infested more often than others. Responsibility for head lice treatment rested primarily on the mother (78%); in 18.8% of families it was shared by both parents. A relatively large proportion of highly educated mothers from a developed country such as Israel self-report head lice infestation during adulthood. The article lists a series of recommendations for health care and education authorities and professionals, academic institutions, pharmaceutical companies and parents, aiming to diminish the national prevalence of head lice infestation.
Cite as: Mumcuoglu, K. Y., Alfi, S., Friger, M., Aronson, E. & Stein-Zamir, C. 2018. Head lice (Phthiraptera: Pediculidae: Pediculus humanus capitis) infestations in children and adults in Israel. Israel Journal of Entomology 48 (1): 21–31.
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