(order Phthiraptera, suborder Anoplura)
Family of sucking lice, which are parasitic on some primates, including humans. The single genus, Pediculus, contains four species, two parasitic on humans, one on the chimpanzee, and one on spider monkeys (Ateles species). The two species parasitic on humans, P. humanus and P. capitis, have sometimes been considered two subspecies of a single species, but they differ in the relative lengths of parts of their legs, and in the environment they use. P. humanus lives and lays its eggs on human clothing, moving on to the body to feed; whilst P. capitis lives and lays its eggs on the hair of the scalp, and can cause mechanized dandruff. P. humanus is a vector of typhus, European relapsing fever, and trench fever, and because of this has been responsible for millions of human deaths. P. capitis is not known to transmit any diseases in natural conditions.
Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.