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2007 Ectoparasites Policy
(103 kB)










Page updated 30 September 2007


Key Points

Ectoparasites live on the skin or in the hair in the environment and bite transiently

Because they are visible (or their effects are visible, as in scabies), they cause disproportionate anxiety

Scabies in AIDS is infectious to carers, but simple hygienic precautions will protect healthcare workers


Scabies and lice live near the skin so personal disinfestation is needed. Fleas and bedbugs reside in the environment and are carried only transiently while they are feeding. For these, treatment of the furniture and room is needed. These diseases are not notifiable. Removal of cockroaches, silver fish, Pharaoh's ants which are not parasitic to man but live within the hospital, is the responsibility of the Housekeeping/Patient Support/Domestic Manager.

The aim of this policy is to give guidance for eliminating parasites in the patient or environment and prevent transmission. When a patient is admitted with an infestation, please let the Infection Control Team know. If not readily identified, send a parasite to microbiology in a specimen pot.


Common Ectoparasites of Humans


Lice (head, body and pubic)

Fleas (cat, dog, human)






Pest control management for the Health Service. 1992 HSG 92/35 Department of Health

Wilson J. Infection Control in Clinical Practice. 1995 Balliere Tindall, London

British National Formulary

Van der Stichele RH, Dezeure EM,.Bogaert MG. Systematic review of clinical efficay of topical treatments for head lice. Br Med J 1995; 311 :604-608

May H. Managing lice and scabies in the community. Prescriber 1992; 19 Drug Review W1:28-38

Maunder J. An update on headlice. Health Visitor 1993; 66: 317-318

Burgess I. Lice and scabies: a guide to diagnosis and treatment. Ibid :28-38