Head lice infestation in school children of a low socioeconomy area of Tabriz city, Iran

  • MH Hodjati
  • N Mousavi
  • M Mousavi
Keywords: Head lice, Pediculus capitis, school children.

Abstract

Head lice infestation (HLI) caused by Pediculus humanus var capitis (Pediculus capitis) is a world wild public health concern that affects mostly school aged children. HLI does not produce an illness, but it
is physically unpleasant and an unbearable social stigma. Over a five months period from July to November, 2006, 2795 school children from a low socio-economy area of Tabriz city enrolled in 13 elementary and high schools (governmental school) including 1948 girls (69.69 %) and 847 boys (30.30%) were examined for the presence of Pediculus capitis (nits, adults and immature). During this study all the infested cases were seen among girls and there was no infestation in boys. School girls aged 10-14 years constituted the highest infestation rate (6.5%) and the lowest infestation rate was seen in girls aged 15-18 years old (1.6%). The infestation rate in 5-9 years old children was 5.7%. The overall infestation rate in the studied population was 3.64%. There was a significant difference between infestation rates among the age groups X2 = 15.43, df = 2, p = 0.0004). But there was no significant
difference between the infestation rates of 5-9 and 10-14  groups(X2=0.36, df=1, p=0.55). Pediculosis is a public health issue in many parts of the world. Certainly, personal hygiene practices and socioeconomic status influence the level of prevalence of pediculosis. The lowest infestation rate in 15-18 years old children in this study may indicates that the better personal hygiene practices including
regular combing and washing of the hair is the main reason for reducing the head lice infestation rate in this group in comparison with the two other groups. The overall infestation rate in the present study is
probably one of the lowest infestation rates in Iran and in the region.
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eISSN: 1684-5315