Current Prevalence Situation of Head Louse Infestation among Elementary School Kids in Taipei City

Yun-Hsia Hsu

2009 Vol.25 NO.1

Correspondence Author: Muh-Yong Yen


Background: Most published studies on head lice infestation in Taiwan have been focused their attention on eastern Taiwan or on some scattered rural areas elsewhere with the many residents being indigenous people, but not on urban areas.
Method: To get a better picture of the head lice infestation among school child in Taipei City, we did this from January 1 to December 31, 2006. If any pupil infested with head lice in elementary schools were diagnosed and notified, a team of trained nurses was sent to examine children of the whole class of the schools in the Taipei City. Those nurse to inspect the hair of all classmates of the notified case with their naked eyes to detect the presence of head lice or their eggs, and collected a structural questionnaire completed by all children examined.
Results: Of 6,036 school children examined, 151 (including the index cases) were found infected with head lice (a positive rate of 2.5% out of the examined). Should those 151 children be the only infected ones in the entire elementary school child population (178,494 according to the statistics published by Ministry of Education) in Taipei City in 2006, the prevalence of head lice infestation would be 0.085%. We also found that the mid-age class pupils (the 3rd graders and the 4th graders) suffered from infestations the most (77 pupils being found infested, or 51.1% of the total). We also found that 80 infested children attended schools in Wenshan District which had higher infestation number compared to the rest of other 11 districts of Taipei City. Further, the period from September to November of the year was found to have most infection cases. In a single risk factor analysis, we found that those with be female children, participating in tutoring classes elsewhere after school, sharing combs and washing-up tools with others, being less frequent in head washing, and having family members infested with head lice were likely to have infestation. The results of further multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that three of the above variables (being a girl [OR = 5.6, 95% CI = 1.5~20.7]; participating in tutoring activities [OR = 12.8, 95% CI = 3.8~42.8]; and having infected family members [OR = 20.6, 95% CI = 1.3~326.8), were still found to be significantly different.
Conclusion: The staff in the health authorities should pay more attention to the problem of school children getting infected with head lice through participating in tutoring activities in their future case monitoring.
Key words: head lice, elementary school kids, urban areas, partaking in tutoring activities.