Human pediculosis, a global public health problem

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2022
Authors:Y. - T. Fu, Yao, C., Deng, Y. - P., Elsheikha, H. M., Shao, R., Zhu, X. - Q., Liu, G. - H.
Journal:Infectious Diseases of Poverty
Pagination:15 pp
Date Published:May-26-2022
Keywords:human lice, Omics technology, Pediculosis, Phylogenetics, public health

Background Human pediculosis is caused by hematophagous lice, which are transmitted between individuals via direct and/or indirect contact. Despite the public health importance of louse infestation, information concerning the global burden of pediculosis and the epidemiological landscape of louse-borne diseases is limited. The aim of this review was to summarize the biology, epidemiology, diagnosis, and control of lice infestation in humans. We also discussed the latest advances in molecular taxonomy and molecular genetics of lice.

Methods We searched five electronic bibliographic databases (PubMed, ScienceDirect, CNKI, VIP Chinese Journal Database, and Wanfang Data) and followed a standard approach for conducting scoping reviews to identify studies on various aspects of human lice. Relevant information reported in the identified studies were collated, categorized, and summarized.

Results A total of 282 studies were eligible for the final review. Human pediculosis remains a public health issue affecting millions of people worldwide. Emerging evidence suggests that head lice and body lice should be considered conspecific, with different genotypes and ecotypes. Phylogenetic analysis based on mitochondrial (mt) cytb gene sequences identified six distinct clades of lice worldwide. In addition to the direct effect on human health, lice can serve as vectors of disease-causing pathogens. The use of insecticides plays a crucial role in the treatment and prevention of louse infestation. Genome sequencing has advanced our knowledge of the genetic structure and evolutionary biology of human lice.

Conclusions Human pediculosis is a public health problem affecting millions of people worldwide, particularly in developing countries. More progress can be made if emphasis is placed on the use of emerging omics technologies to elucidate the mechanisms that underpin the physiological, ecological, and evolutionary aspects of lice.

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith