Diseases That lice and fleas Can Spread
Several of the infectious diseases associated with human lice are life-threatening, including epidemic typhus, relapsing fever, and trench fever, which are caused by Rickettsia prowazekii, Borrelia recurrentis, and Bartonella quintana, respectively. Although these diseases have been known for several centuries, they remain a major public health concern in populations living in poor-hygiene conditions because of war, social disruption, severe poverty, or gaps in public health management. Poor-hygiene conditions favour a higher prevalence of body lice, which are the main vectors for these diseases. Trench fever has been reported in both developing and developed countries in populations living in poor conditions, such as homeless individuals. In contrast, outbreaks of epidemic typhus and epidemic relapsing fever have occurred in jails and refugee camps in developing countries. However, reports of a significantly high seroprevalence for epidemic typhus and epidemic relapsing fever in the homeless populations of developed countries suggest that these populations remain at high risk for outbreaks of these diseases. Additionally, experimental laboratory studies have demonstrated that the body louse can transmit other emerging or re-emerging pathogens, such as Acinetobacter baumannii and Yersinia pestis. Therefore, a strict survey of louse-borne diseases and the implementation of efficient delousing strategies in these populations should be public health priorities.
Louse-borne Infectious Diseases
Of the three types of louse that affect humans, only body lice act as vectors for human pathogens. Body lice are known to transmit epidemic typhus, relapsing fever, and trench fever, diseases caused by Rickettsia prowazekii, Borrelia recurrentis, and Bartonella quintana, respectively. These three pathogens have been recovered experimentally in body louse faeces, suggesting that the transmission of these organisms occurs through the contamination of bite sites, conjunctivae, and mucous membranes, either by faeces from infected body lice or by crushed infected louse bodies. Louse-borne diseases are associated with a high prevalence of body louse infestation, and have recently re-emerged in jails and refugee camps in central and eastern Africa, in rural communities in the Peruvian Andes, in rural louse-infested populations in Russia, and in homeless populations living in poor-hygiene conditions in developed countries. Head and pubic lice have been found to be competent vectors in laboratory settings. B. quintana DNA has been detected in head lice from Nepalese slum children, Ethiopian street beggars, and homeless adults in San Francisco. It has also been detected in head louse nits from a homeless man in Marseilles (France). However, B. quintana DNA was not detected in head lice collected from schoolchildren in France and seven other countries. Factors contributing to the presence of B. quintana in head lice are debated, and could include genotype C head lice and high altitude. Currently, head and pubic lice are not considered to be vectors for human pathogens.
Professional pest control
A qualified and licensed pest control operator can determine the type, source and extent of the infestation and use registered pesticides to control the cockroaches. Good hygiene practices, such as frequent house cleaning, should reduce the risk of further infestations. Learn more about professional pest control services by visiting our home page.