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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Georgia Southern: Completes Molecular Survey Study for Pathogens and Markers of Pesticide Resistance in Human Head Lice from Madagascar

Infestation with head lice is the most prevalent human ectoparasitic condition in the modern world. Dr. Marina Eremeeva, from Georgia Southern University Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, and a team of researchers conducted a molecular survey of human head lice from six isolated rural communities in Madagascar. The lice were examined for the occurrence of biomarker of permethrin resistance and for evidence of infection with two different louse-borne bacteria, Bartonella quintanaand Acinetobacterspp. including Acinetobacter baumannii.  This collaborative project was developed to better understand the role of lice as potential vectors of infectious disease agents in isolated communities living in poverty. The study detected B. quintanacarriage by 12.6 percent of lice from 4 villages and Acinetobacterby 42 percent of lice in all locations, indicating significant risk to human health. The occurrence of a kdr permethrin-resistance mutation was detected in 70 percent of lice from all the villages. This finding was unexpected and may be a result of the high frequency use of insecticide-treated nets and residual indoor spraying in Madagascar. According to Dr. Eremeeva this observation was new since in developed countries aa high prevalence of permethrin resistance is associated with uncontrolled use of over-the-counter pyrethroid-based pediculicides. A follow-up study will be needed to conduct biological evaluations of the lice and to determine susceptibility of Malagasy head lice to non-permethrin pediculicides and other potential control remedies. Local barriers to control and elimination of human lice in Madagascar will also be evaluated.

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