Prevalence and risk factors associated with pediculosis capitis in an impoverished urban community in Lima, Peru

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2013
Authors:H. Lesshafft, Baier, A., Guerra, H., Terashima, A., Feldmeier, H.
Keywords:ectoparasites, epidemiology, head lice, Logistic regression analysis, pediculosis capitis, Peru, poverty, risk factors

Background: Pediculosis capitis is a ubiquitous parasitic skin disease associated with intense pruritus of the scalp. In developing countries it frequently affects children and adults, but epidemiological data at the community level are rare. Objectives: To assess prevalence and risk factors associated with pediculosis capitis in a resource-poor community in Lima, Peru. Materials and Methods: In total, 736 persons living in 199 households in a circumscribed neighbourhood were examined for head lice and nits by visual inspection. At the same time, socio-demographic data were collected using a structured questionnaire. Variables associated with pediculosis were identified by performing a bivariate analysis, followed by a multivariate logistic regression analysis. Results: Prevalence of pediculosis capitis was 9.1% (95% confidence interval (CI): 7.0-11.2 %) in the general population and 19.9% (CI: 15.4-24.4%) in children ≤15 years of age. Multivariate analysis showed that pediculosis capitis was significantly associated with age ≤ 15 years (OR: 16.85; CI:7.42-38.24), female sex (OR: 2.84; CI: 1.58-5.12), household size of >4 persons (OR: 1.98; CI: 1.11-3.55), low quality of house construction material (OR:2.22; CI: 1.20-4.12), and presence of animals in the household (OR: 1.94; CI: 1.11-3.39). Conclusion: Pediculosis capitis was a very common disease in the studied community in Lima, Peru. Our logistic regression analysis affirms that young age is the most important risk factor for pediculosis capitis. Moreover, female sex, large household size, living in wooden houses and the presence of animals were identified as being significantly associated with head lice infestation.

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