Transmission of Body Lice
Body lice are spread in several ways. For example, transmission of body lice can occur through sharing clothing, bedding, or towels with an infested person. In addition, lying on furniture that has recently been in contact with an infested person is another method of transmission. Body lice can be transmitted quickly because they are so active. However, they do not do well away from a host for long periods of time.
Body lice are tiny, wingless parasitic insects. They live for about a month and require blood in order to survive. Without blood meals, they die within ten days. Body lice are quite active and can travel quickly, which explains why transmission of body lice occurs so easily. However, the insects are not long-distance travelers, and they do not do well away from the host for long periods of time.
Contact with an infested person's clothing or bedding is the most common way that transmission of body lice occurs. This can include:
- Lying on a bed, couch, or carpet that has recently been in contact with an infested person
- Using infested bedding linens or towels
- Wearing clothing recently worn by an infested person.
Skin-to-skin contact with an infested person can also spread body lice.
Transmission of body lice occurs rapidly under crowded conditions where hygiene is poor and where there is frequent contact among people.
Anyone can get body lice. However, in the United States and other developed countries, body lice are found mainly in homeless, transient populations who don't have regular access to baths or changes of clothes. Infestation is unlikely to persist on anyone who bathes regularly and who regularly has access to freshly laundered clothing and bedding.