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Disease

Intense itching ("pruritus") and rash caused by an allergic reaction to louse bites are common symptoms of body lice infestation. As with other lice infestations, intense itching leads to scratching which can cause sores and secondary bacterial infection of the skin.

When body lice infestation is long lasting, heavily bitten areas of the skin can become thickened and darkened, particularly in the mid-section of the body. This condition is called "vagabond’s disease."

Body lice are known to transmit disease (epidemic typhus, trench fever, and epidemic relapsing fever).

  • Page last reviewed: September 24, 2013
  • Page last updated: September 24, 2013
  • Content source:
    • Global Health - Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria
    • Notice: Linking to a non-federal site does not constitute an endorsement by HHS, CDC or any of its employees of the sponsors or the information and products presented on the site.
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