Head Lice of Pygmies Reveal the Presence of Relapsing Fever Borreliae

Created on 16.02.17

A molecular screening of pygmies’ head lice in the Republic of Congo has identified the presence of a dangerous human pathogen, Borrelia reccurentis, the causative agent of relapsing fever, in ten clade A head lice, which was not reported in the republic of Congo and B. theileri in one head louse.

The study by Amanzougaghene et al., published in the December 2016 PLoS Journal of neglected tropical diseases suggests that there is a widespread infection among head lice with several species of Acinetobacter.

The findings are the first to show the presence of B. recurrentis in African pygmies’ head lice in the Republic of Congo and the first to report the presence of DNAs of B. theileri and several species of Acinetobacter in human head lice.

Further studies are needed to determine whether the head lice can transmit these pathogenic bacteria from one person to another.

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