Johns Hopkins ABX GuidePathogensOther

Lice

Valeria Fabre, M.D.
Lice is a topic covered in the Johns Hopkins ABX Guide.

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MICROBIOLOGY

  • Ectoparasites that cause an infestation rather than infection.
    • Lice live on human hosts by blood meals after piercing skin and injecting saliva that then causes pruritus.
  • Lice can survive away from the human host for up to 10 days, after which time they die of starvation.
  • 3 species infests humans:
    • Phthirus pubis (crab louse, pubic louse)
    • Pediculus humanus humanus (body louse)
    • Pediculus humanus capitis (head louse)
  • Life cycle: female lives 1-3 months, lays up to 300 eggs (nits). Nits hatch in 6-10 days giving rise to nymphs which become adults in 10 days.

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Last updated: November 6, 2015