Female body louse, Pediculus humanus var. corporis. Some of the external morphologic features displayed by members of the genus Pediculus include an elongated abdominal region without any processes, and three pairs of legs, which are all equal in length and width.Body lice are parasitic insects that live on the body, and in the clothing or bedding of infested humans. Infestation is common, found worldwide, and affects people of all races. Body lice infestations spread rapidly under crowded conditions where hygiene is poor, and there is frequent contact among people.Note the sensorial setae, or hairs that cover the louse’s body, which pick up, and transmit information to the insect about changes in its environment such as temperature, and chemical queues.

Body lice are usually found only in homeless, transient populations who don't have access to changes of clothes or bath. Infestation is unlikely to persist on anyone who bathes regularly and who regularly has access to freshly laundered clothing and bedding. Epidemics of typhus and louse-borne relapsing fever (LBRF) have been caused by body lice. Though typhus is no longer widespread, epidemics still occur during times of war, civil unrest, natural disasters, in refugee camps, and prisons where people live crowded together in unsanitary conditions. Typhus still exists in places where climate, chronic poverty, and social customs prevent regular changes and laundering of clothing.


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