The head louse (Pediculus humanus capitis) is an obligate ectoparasite of humans. Head lice are wingless insects spending their entire life on human scalp and feeding exclusively on human blood. Louse eggs are called “nits” and are anchored to the base of hairs close to the scalp by an adhesive produced by the female louse at the time of laying.
Head lice infestation is the second most common communicable condition in humans after the common cold and is a major community health concern in most countries. Approximately 6-12 million people, mainly young school-aged children, are treated annually for head lice in the U.S. alone. In addition to the social embarrassment associated with this infestation there are many far reaching consequences including sleep loss, secondary skin infections and reduced school attendance.
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