I'd heard about lice. Letters sent home from the schools reporting a case of head lice to all the parents had become more frequent in recent years. But it was always about other kids. Well, with the third child, we were included in this nitpicking trauma. Turns out though, it was great research for my book.
Little lice were a big deal up in the barracks of the Siberian exiles. My mother told of how a sweater moved because it was covered with the parasites. And, unlike bedbugs, lice aren't just an itchy inconvenience. Lice can carry typhus and this disease has killed thousands of people. My grandmother was killed by a louse that probably looked like this. It was a very difficult chapter to write (and re-write) in my book.
Here are 12 quick facts about lice:
1. Lice is plural. One lice is a louse.
2. Their eggs are called nits.
3. Lice have no wings.
4. Lice feed on human blood.
5. Lice cause intense itching and red spots.
6. There are three kinds of lice - head, body and pubic.
7. Head lice attach themselves to hair, body lice attach
themselves to clothes.
8. You get rid of body lice by boiling or burning the clothes
or using insecticide.
9. Body lice can carry the typhus disease.
10. 6-12 million Americans have lice annually.
11. Lice thrive in overcrowded and unhygenic living conditions.
12. Lice thrived in the Gulag.
I'll share more about typhus in an upcoming post.