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Med Trop (Mars). 2005;65(1):13-23. Related Articles,

[Lice and lice-borne diseases in humans]

[Article in French]

Houhamdi L, Parola P, Raoult D.

L 'Unite des Rickettsies, CNRS UMR 6020, Marseille, France.

Among the three lice which parasite the human being, the human body louse, Pediculus humanus humanus, is a vector of infectious diseases. It lives and multiplies in clothes and human infestation is associated with cold weather and a lack of hygiene. Three pathogenic bacteria are transmitted by the body louse: 1) Rickettsia prowazekii, the agent of epidemic typhus of which the most recent outbreak (and the largest since World War II) was observed during the civil war in Burundi; 2) Borrelia recurrentis, the agent of relapsing fever, historically responsible of massive outbreaks in Eurasia and Africa, which prevails currently in Ethiopia and neighboring countries; 3) Bartonella quintana, the agent of trench fever, bacillary angiomatosis, chronic bacteremia, endocarditis, and lymphadenopathy. Body louse infestation, associated with a decline in social and hygienic conditions provoked by civil unrest and economic instability, is reemergent worldwide. Recently, a forth human pathogen, Acinetobacter baumannii, has been associated to the body louse.

PMID: 15903070 [PubMed - in process]


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