Dangers of pediculosis

Under the general title of “socially significant diseases” the following ones are normally listed: tuberculosis, sexually transmitted infections, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), malignant neoplasms, pancreatic [insular] diabetes, mental disorders and postural deformities, high blood pressure. The following diseases are dangerous for fellow human beings: the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), viral fever and viral hemorrhagic fever, helminthiasis, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, diphtheria, sexually transmitted infections, leprosy, malaria, pediculosis, acariasis and other infections, glanders and melioidosa, malignant anthrax, tuberculosis, cholera, plague.

This list of diseases was confirmed by the Russian government in December 2004. It’s important to know, that every human being, who suffers from one of these diseases (or has suffered from it in the past) can apply for free of charge treatment, special permit to sanatoriums and further benefits. But we suppose, that our readers agree with us, that it is much better to knowingly guard against diseases and pay attention to one’s and his family state of health. We try hard to report regularly about concrete measures, which can help to avoid the development of one or another disease. In our recent edition you could read about such insidious diseases like hypertension (it encloses the list of social significant diseases), today we like to talk about pediculosis – a widespread parasitic human disease, whose cause are louses.

Russian medics observe a sharp rise in the number of people suffering from pediculosis in our country since the beginning of the 90’s.

According to data of the Center of governmental sanitary-and-epidemiologic supervision (FZGSEN) in the period of the last 10 years figures of infectiousness with louses oscillate from 220 to 300 upon 100 000 people. In fact the number of victims is much higher, because only a small part of the cases is calendared. In the big cities (Moscow, Saint Petersburg) even the wittingly underestimated official statistics exceed the average rate in Russia about 4 to 5 times, arriving at 650-800 infected upon 100 000 healthy people. Most of those are adults.

The causes for this are evident: deterioration of life conditions, migration and overcrowding, the insanitariness, which attends wars, natural catastrophes, and social earthquakes. Local conflicts in different regions of Russia and the former territory of the Soviet Union, the augmentation of homeless persons, obliged migration of the population, the increase in neglected children – that’s a nutrient medium, on which lice – these small wingless blood-sucking insects – can multiply themselves excellently.

Throughout the world there are 532 varieties of lice; in Russia you can find about 40 of them. Only specific, so called “one-host”-human-parasites are of medical importance – the head louse, the body (clothes) louse and the crablouse. Pediculosis is diffused through direct contact with an infected person or through shared use of objects of personal hygiene (comb, brusher), hats and clothes.

Symptom data of pediculosis – itch and bloody scab. Over a long period spots, wounds, asperities, dermatitis and eczema of the coverlet can be developed. The penetration of pathogenic organism through the harmed skin may result in lymphadenitis. It’s necessary to remember, that people sense the bite in a highly individual way, that’s why an infected person may not attach importance to his mutated state of health for a quite long period and be a source of infection for those, whose sensibility is higher.

Furthermore this disease is really serious, because the louse is vector of the epidemic typhus. When a person once has been ill with epidemic typhus, he remains carrier of this infection during all his life and may relapse in stressful situations. Most of the infected persons are in advanced age today – these who had been infected with epidemic typhus during the Second World War or in the postwar period. However we can’t eliminate the possibility of affection of groups of other ages – especially of children.

If a child attends a child institution it’s under regular investigation of medics, if the child stays at home, it’s mother or grandmother worries about his state of health. Indeed it may happen that the grandchild, who was infected by other children, itself, contaminates his grandmother.

To notice the lice themselves is practically impossible, because they immediately crawl away, the minute you pet the children’s head; but by exact inspection of the hair behind the ears and above the neck, one can discover nits. Nits are the louses’ eggs, which fasten onto the hair’s ground. Usually they are white or rose and louses look like dandruffs. But in contrast to dandruffs they grab hold of the hair and so it is practically impossible to shake them off. By suspicion on clothes louses one should examine the patient and his clothes and place special emphasis on folds and seams inside the pieces. If there are any doubts, one should immediately address oneself to a doctor.

There are three possible methods to destroy lice: mechanical, physical and chemical. By insignificant affection the mechanical method will suffice: Here the insects are combed out with a special comb, which cut or shave off the hair. The physical methos works with the influence of high and low temperatures and is recommended against body (clothes) lice. In the majority of cases one boils the underclothes and irons hot the clothes. And don’t forget to treat your washing machine afterwards with disinfectant. The chemical method is based upon the use of substances, which lead to the lice’s death – pediculosides.

Independent of the sort of pediculosis and the chosen medicament, it is necessary to follow some general principles:

  • The medicine of every patient should be combined with antiepidemic measures in the family, the school institutions – to guard against a new infection.
  • The therapy of the patients, their registration and the disinfection should be carried out by a doctor, jointly with staff members of the disinfection department GZSEN or a disinfection department of one of the disinfection stations.
  • While prescribing medicaments, the doctor should make clear the use of every compound.
  • When children younger than 5 years, pregnant or nursing women are infected, the consultation of a medic is more than ever necessary.
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