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Can We Get a Head Start on Head Lice?

Head lice, Pediculus humanus capitis, a common parasite found world-wide, affect children most often. School staffs frequently lack the necessary knowledge and expertise to control lice epidemics. The observed properties of the distribution of lice in humans result from a "macroparasitic" model. In this article, we provide a simple model to better understand the mechanisms behind the distribution of head lice among humans. We also provide an epidemiological model that models the transmission dynamics of lice in humans. The basic reproductive number is computed and involves two terms: the transmission of lice to of susceptible individuals by those with few and many lice, respectively. We establish conditions for the eradication and persistence of lice in humans.

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Veronica Ayala-Prado, University of California-Irvine
Claudia A. Catalán, Loyola Marymount University
Nohora Milena Londoño-Alzante, Universidad de Quindío-Armenia
Joaqúin Rivera-Cruz, Universidad de Puerto Rico-Cayey