Pediculus Capitis, insects most commonly known as head lice are known to be very contagious parasites however, they are quite harmless. Head lice, unlike the body lice, does not carry any kind of diseases. These tiny insects reside in the hair, quite close to the scalp. Having head lice is quite embarrassing for anyone, however, the real question is that where does lice come from?
Head Lice and their Source of Food
In order to figure out how do people get lice, you first need to understand how the lice functions. The lice need to feed on another living being if it wants to survive. The source of food for these head lice is the blood flowing through your scalp. These lice are not airborne, are unable to fly, don’t know how to swim in water and are unable to survive in water unless they are present on the host. However, where do lice come from in the first place?
The Geographic Origin of Lice
The head lice in humans have been categorized into different clades, depending on their genetic map. A clade is basically a group of organisms that have a common ancestor however their genes are not identical. There are three kinds of head lice; category A, B, and C. All of the three categories have different distribution and different genes and characteristics. The most common clade is the clade B. Lice that falls in this category had originated in North America however, it migrated to other parts of the world including Europe and Australia.
Lineage of Lice
The answer to the question ‘where do head lice come from’ is not that simple. The lineage of the lice also needs to be taken into account. The species of lice that affects the humans today come from two distinct lineages. According to research, one particular kind of lice, known as the worldwide species was the first one to exist.
Then, a few hundred years ago, a new clade emerged from this worldwide species. This new species was confined to just North America. To put it in much simpler terms, the head lice is thought to be developed from the body lice since both of the species are quite similar, yet they have their own distinctions. Human evolution has often been linked with the occurrence of the new species as well. The differences in the two kinds of lice suggest that humans started wearing clothes hence leading to the development of the new species.
Where Does Lice Come From in Humans
Now that you have understood the origin of the lice, the question still remains that how to humans get lice. When one infected host makes personal, close contact with the other host, the transmission of lice takes place. However, for the transmission, there needs to be a head to head contact in between the two hosts. Sharing of combs, towels, brushes, hats, caps, scarves, hair ties and other such personal items also encourages the transmission of lice.
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Lice travel by crawling. There are a few rare cases where the lice crawl into a clothing of a person, or into someone else scalp and hair, however, this needs to happen in a short amount of time. Lice can’t survive more than a day without any nourishment.