cooties

Luscombe99 luscombe99 at aol.com
Wed Jan 1 17:32:08 EST 1997


Interesting questions.  The "facts" in this situation are pretty jumbled,
which makes answering all your questions difficult.  However, I think a
few things can be cleared up.

1.  First of all, get away from using terms like "cooties".  As already
stated, this is a slang term and has no place in a serious discussion. 
"Cooties" is a common term for infestation with lice, which are insects. 
Scabies is a condition caused by Sarcoptes scabiei, a mite.  These are
completely different conditions.

2.  The fact that your father  contracted scabies in a nursing home isn't
surprising.  The degree of skin-to-skin contact (e.g., staff members
physically moving patients in bed, etc) and the reduced immune system
capacity of many elderly people are factors in such cases.  

3.  Who made the comment about "great big bugs"?  Regardless, it doesn't
apply to either lice or scabies mites.  The largest louse you'll ever see
is about a quarter-inch long;  S. scabiei is impossible to see without a
microscope.  I'm not sure what you saw that was just under 2" long, but it
sure as hell wasn't a louse!

4.  True, cows are host to several louse species, but these are not
parasites of people.  Lice are very host-specific, i.e., human lice ARE
NOT acquired from animals.  They come from OTHER PEOPLE ONLY, NOT FROM
ANIMALS.

5.  Rats, Lice and History is an interesting read, but it's 60 years old
and won't tell you anything about modern diagnosis or treatment.  If you
want information about life cycles of mites and lice, any good
parasitology textbook will do.  For dx and tx info, check a dermatology
textbook (or for the quick version, the most recent edition of the Merck
Manual).  

Dr. Bob Garrison
Sacramento, CA 



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