With Labor Day looming and the beginning of school, many of the academically minded among us turn their thoughts and eyes to topics like classroom supplies, textbooks and the likelihood little Johnny is going to come home with head lice.
It’s hard to know how many people get head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis) each year. The Centers for Disease Control estimates 6 to 12 million infestations annually in the United States among children three to 11 years of age – the most common targets.
Getting head lice is not a matter of cleanliness. The wingless parasitic insect is spread primarily by direct contact with the hair of an infested person. The most common way is head-to-head contact. Some studies suggest girls get head lice more often than boys.
Less common modes of transmission are wearing infested clothing, such as hats or scarves, using infested combs, brushes or towels or lying on a bed, couch, pillow or carpet recently in contact with an infested person.
Head lice are not known to transmit disease, but secondary bacterial skin infections may occur from scratching the infestation site. Some folks argue that beyond their basic harmlessness, head lice might actually promote health by boosting a natural immune response to body lice (Pediculus humanus humanus), which pose a more serious health threat.
Head lice spend their entire lives on human scalps, clamped onto a strand of hair, feeding exclusively on human blood. There are other species of lice that infest other mammals and birds.
Treatment involves the use of pediculicides – medicines that kill lice and their eggs. Supplemental measures include thorough cleaning of all clothes and exposed materials and grooming with a special, fine-toothed comb to extract adults and eggs, called nits.
Above: A colorized scanning electron micrograph of a nit (green) affixed to a strand of human hair, courtesy of Kevin Mackenzie, one of the winners of this year’s Wellcome Image Awards.
Tobacco control advocates disagree on whether e-cigarettes are a useful tool to get smokers off tobacco, or just a sleeker form of one of the world’s deadliest addictions.
A lot of that discord comes from the fact that there’s just not enough science to know the risks and benefits of e-cigarettes, which deliver nicotine in a vapor rather than through tobacco smoke. And it could take years to find out if vaping causes cancer and other deadly diseases.
But that lack of certainty means that people need more protection, not less, according to a report released Tuesday by the World Health Organization.
Photo credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Did you know nearly half of the 14 million new HPV infections each year occur among 15-24 year-olds? Prevent HPV-related cancer today. Ask your preteen or teen’s doctor about the HPV vaccine: http://on.nyc.gov/1rrxcLP #VaccinateHPV
Prevent Cancer Today: #VaccinateHPV!
About 79 million people in the U.S. have human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and another 14 million get HPV each year. Who should get vaccinated and why?
HPV infection can cause genital warts and can lead to cancer many years later
- Each year, there are approximately 33,200 HPV-associated cancers in the U.S. – about 20,600 in women and 12,600 in men. HPV cancers include cervical, vaginal, vulvar, anal, penile, and oropharyngeal cancers.
- Early vaccination and prevention is critical for cancer prevention, which is why it is especially important for parents to take control and bring their pre-teens and teens to the doctor to receive the vaccine.
The best way to prevent HPV is with a vaccine, which may be up to 99% effective in preventing these cancers.
- The vaccine is recommended for all girls and boys between the ages of 11 and 12. It is important to vaccinate your child now, before he or she is old enough to be exposed to HPV. The vaccine may be given to pre-teens as young as 9.
- Females aged 13 through 26 and males aged 13 through 21 should be vaccinated if they have not previously received the vaccine.
- Men who have sex with men, who are at greater risk for HPV infection, and men with weak immune systems (including those who have HIV/AIDS) aged 22 through 26 should also receive the HPV vaccine.
The vaccine is safe!
- Nearly 67 million doses of HPV vaccine have been given in the U.S. through March 2014, and studies provide continued evidence of the vaccine’s safety. The most common side-effects are mild, temporary symptoms, including soreness where the shot was given and fever, headache and nausea.
Save yourself an additional trip to the doctor!
- The HPV vaccine is safe to receive with the other recommended adolescent vaccines. Many children also see health care professionals for physicals before school or for participation in sports, camping events, travel and so on. These are all great opportunities for your preteen or teen to get the HPV vaccine.
Visit our HPV page to learn more & ask your child’s provider about the HPV vaccine today!
The Public Health Prevention Service (PHPS) is seeking enthusiastic people for a three-year training and service fellowship. Are you interested in
- Improving your public health leadership and management skills?
- Gaining hands-on experience?
- Working in a public health agency?
Designed for master’s level public health professionals, the PHPS fellowship focuses on public health program management and provides experience in program planning, implementation, and evaluation through specialized hands-on training and mentorship at CDC, as well as in state, local, and other public health organizations.
Learn more about the fellowship.
Editorial cartoon: Public health policy in Texas
(From The Boston Globe)
"When you say Ebola," says Amanda Ellis, "everybody will run."
Ellis is 79. She’s sitting in a blue plastic chair in the dirt yard in front of her house, in a rural area outside Liberia’s capital city of Monrovia. She looks worn out. She has lost five members of her family to the virus that has claimed over 1,400lives in her homeland and in neighboring countries.
Ellis’ daughter Thelmorine was the first to go. She was 58. She contracted Ebola after taking care of a friend who was infected at a hospital where both of them worked as nurses.
When Thelmorine got sick, her sister Rose came over to her house to tend to her. That’s how Rose got infected.
Ellis says she was there when her daughter Rose showed the first symptoms. She points to a small, white-washed house a few yards from her own. Rose lived there with her husband.
Rose told her mother she had stomachache. Ellis gave her warm water to drink and took her to a clinic several times.
But Rose’s decline was swift. “She come into the bathroom to take a bath and just dropped,” Ellis recalls.
Photo: Amanda Ellis, 79, lost five members of her family to Ebola. Now, nobody will buy the mangoes that used provide her income. She must rely instead on handouts.