Human lice (Peduculus humanus) are world-wide, obligate ectoparasites that infest humans and chimpanzees; the medical term condition of being infested with lice is pediculosis. This species is comprised of two morphologically identical, interbreeding (at least in laboratory conditions, although not in natural ones), but behaviorally distinguishable subspecies that occupy non-overlapping habitats: Peduculus humanus humanus (human body lice) and Peduculus humanus capitus (human head lice). As their names suggest, body lice are found hiding in and attaching their eggs to clothing, whereas head lice attach their eggs at the base of hairs. These subspecies are thought to have diverged about 110,000 years ago when humans started wearing clothing. Body lice infest mostly those living with poor hygiene and who do not have access to bathing facilities and clean sheets and clothes, as infestations do not persist through bathing and laundering. These lice can carry such diseases as louse-borne typhus (Rickettsia prowazeki), trench fever (Rochalimaea Quintana), and louse-borne relapsing fever (Borrellia recurrentis). Head lice, on the other hand, are not known to be disease vectors.
(Morgan 2001; Smith; Wikipedia 2011a, 2011b)
- Morgan, C. 2001. "Pediculus humanus". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved December 01, 2011 from http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Pediculus_humanus.html
- Smith, V. Peduculus humanus (head or body louse). Natural History Museum. Retrieved December 1, 2011 from http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/species-of-the-day/scientific-advances/disease/pediculus-humanus/index.html
- Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 10 November, 2011a. Head louse. Retrieved December 1, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Head_louse&oldid=459900807
- Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 25 September, 2011b. Body louse. Retrieved December 1, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Body_louse&oldid=452345384