Molecular Survey of Head and Body Lice, Pediculus humanus, in France

Created on 04.05.18

A new study has examined the genetic diversity of head and body lice collected from Bobigny, which is located near Paris (France), and confirmed for the first time the presence of clade E head lice in France. Clade E has upto this point been found mainly in lice from West Africa.

The study by Candy et al., published in the May 2018 edition of the Journal of Vector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases suggests that amplifying and sequencing the cytb gene confirms the presence of clades A and B while amplifying and sequencing both cytb and cox1 gene, reports the presence of Clade E.

The findings revealed that DNA from Bartonella quintana was detected in 16.7% of body lice from homeless individuals, but in none of the head lice collected from 47 families. Acinetobacter DNA was also detected in 11.5% of head lice belonging to all three clades and 29.1% of body lice.

The study also identified six species of Acinetobacter including potential new ones with Acinetobacter baumannii being the most prevalent followed by Candidatus Acinetobacter Bobigny-1, Acinetobacter calcoaceticus, Acinetobacter nosocomialis, Acinetobacter junii, and Candidatus Acinetobacter Bobigny-2.

Apart from showing for the first time the presence of clade E head lice in France, the study also appears to be the first to report the presence of DNAs of several species of Acinetobacter in human head lice in France.

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