RESEARCH ARTICLE


Indirect Transmission of Head Lice via Inanimate Objects



Deon V. Canyon*, Rick Speare
Anton Breinl Centre for Public Health and Tropical Medicine, James Cook University, Townsville QLD 4811, Australia


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Creative Commons License
© 2010 Canyon and Speare

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode. This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Anton Breinl Centre for Public Health and Tropical Medicine, James Cook University, Townsville QLD 4811, Australia; Tel: 0431907814; E-mail: deoncanyon@gmail.com


Abstract

Whether people can become infected by head lice transferring from inanimate objects is a topic of controversy. This paper reviews the evidence available from experimental studies in controlled laboratory experiments and data from field studies. The weight of evidence appears to be against transmission from inanimate objects being significant, and the promotion of inanimate objects that play an epidemiologically important role in head lice dispersal is not supported by evidence. We conclude that the control of head lice should focus on the head, not on the environment. However, additional studies are needed to quantify transmission risk via inanimate objects and the probability that head lice eggs survive and hatch off-host.

Keywords: Pediculosis, pediculus, transmission, fomites, inanimate objects.