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Revista de Saúde Pública

On-line version ISSN 1518-8787Print version ISSN 0034-8910


CATALA, Silvia; JUNCO, Luis  and  VAPORAKY, Rita. Pediculus capitis infestation according to sex and social factors in Argentina. Rev. Saúde Pública [online]. 2005, vol.39, n.3, pp.438-443. ISSN 1518-8787.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the intensity of Pediculus capitis infestation (abundance) among Argentinean schoolchildren. Children's sex and social stratum were analyzed as modifiers of the general prevalence and degree of parasitism. METHODS: The study included 1,370 schoolchildren (692 girls, 678 boys) from 26 schools of the province of La Rioja (21 public schools, five private schools). Classic prevalence was obtained as the percentage of children with nits and/or lice. Moreover, five degrees of parasitism were classified: 0) children with no signs of pediculosis; 0+) children with evidence of past infestation; 1) children with a recent infestation and low probability of active parasitism; 2) children with a recent infestation and high probability of active parasitism; 3) children with mobile lice (active pediculosis). RESULTS: The general prevalence was 61.4% (girls: 79%; boys: 44%, p<0.001). Private schools showed lower prevalence than public schools (p=0.02), especially due to the low prevalence in boys. Fifty percent of children were classified in classes 0 and 0+, 22% in class 1; and 28% in grades 2 and 3. The proportion of children in grade 3 was higher in public schools than in private schools. There were significant sexual differences in the intensity of parasitism for grades 2 and 3, where girls' rates exceeded twice those of boys'. CONCLUSIONS: Sex and social stratum are important modifiers of P. capitis general prevalence and degree of infestation. The classification of children by intensity of infestation allowed a more precise delimitation of this condition, which is especially important for disease surveillance and application of control measures.

Keywords : Lice infestations [prevention & control]; Students; Risk factors; Argentina.

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