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The True Nature of Head Lice Transmission Essay

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Summary: This study aimed to discover the true nature of head lice transmission. Prior to this paper there were two proposed mechanisms for transmission. These mechanisms were either head-to-head transfer or via fomite. Transmission was tested simulating possible scenarios lice could be transferred. This included speed, angle and orientation of louse transferring objects, such as hair. The researchers concluded that a slow relationship between hairs must be maintained along with proper orientation in order to permit transmission. These results suggested that lice are more likely to transfer via the head-to-head mechanism.
Study System and Approach: The study analyzed lice freshly extracted from the heads of primary school children. These lice were tested within twenty-four hours of extraction. The lice were place in the middle of hair strands and were contacted by hair at different speeds, angles, and orientations. The speeds consisted of either 8m or 4m per minute. The orientations consisted of whether the hair was contacting the head of the louse first or the tail. All transmissions were recorded and analyzed via chi-squared tests.
Results and Implications: The results of these tests showed an increased transmission rate when the orientation was from tail-to-head, at speeds of 4m/min, and at an angle of 0 degrees. It was also evident that each louse gained attachment via its first leg’s claw. Once this claw was secure, all other legs were then used. These results implicate transmission to uninhabited hair occurred when the hair was parallel with the inhabited hair and at slow speeds. Due to the specific requirements for transmission, as shown in this study, one can infer the slightest touch of heads would not be sufficient t...


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...Pediculidae): evidence from double infestations. Heredity 95: 34-40.
Link: http://www.nature.com/hdy/journal/v95/n1/pdf/6800663a.pdf

Paper: Leo N.P., Barker S.C.. 2005. Unravelling the evolution of the head lice and body lice of humans. Parasitology Research 98: 44-47.
Link: http://www.springerlink.com/content/u22123u11620p563/fulltext.pdf

Paper: Kirkness et al. 2010. Genome sequences of the human body louse and its primary endosymbiont provide insights into the permanent parasitic lifestyle. PNAS 107: 12168-12173.
Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2901460/pdf/pnas.201003379.pdf

Paper: Canyon D.V., Speare R,. and R. Muller. 2002. Spatial and Kinetic Factors for the transfer of Head Lice (Pediculus capitis) Between Hairs. Journal of Investigative Dermatology 119: 629-631.
Link: http://www.nature.com/jid/journal/v119/n3/pdf/5601602a.pdf


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