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Departments » Public Health » Communicable Disease

Head Lice

What is head lice?
Lice are parasitic insects that can be found on the head, eyebrows, and eyelashes of people. Adult head lice are roughly 2–3 mm long. Head lice infest the head and neck and attach their eggs to the base of the hair shaft. Lice move by crawling; they cannot hop or fly. Head lice feed on human blood several time a day and live close to the human scalp. Head lice are not known to spread disease.

What does head lice look like?
Head lice have three forms: the egg (also called a nit), the nymph, and the adult.
Treatment Guidelines:
Treatment for head lice is recommended for persons diagnosed with an active infestation. All household members and other close contacts should be checked; those persons with evidence of an active infestation should be treated. Some experts believe prophylactic treatment is prudent for persons who share the same bed with actively-infested individuals. All infested persons (household members and close contacts) and their bedmates should be treated at the same time.

For more information, click here.

Bed Bugs

Are bed bugs found in WI?
Yes, bed bugs are found throughout Wisconsin. You should not be surprised if you find or learn about bed bugs in your community. Bed bugs can be found in private homes, hotels, resorts, apartment complexes and communal living facilities.

What are bed bugs and what do they look like?
Bed bugs (Cimex lectularis) are small, flat, wingless insects that feed on human and animal blood usually during the night. They are often reddish brown in color. Adult insects can be 1/4 inch in lengh and have a shape similar to an apple seed. Nymph stages (early life stages) of this insect are roughtly the same size as the small lettering on a penny.

Where do bed bugs live?
Bed bugs are most often found in areas where people live and sleep. Homes, apartments, and hotel rooms are common locations in which bed bugs can be found. Often they are found within 8 to 10 feet of a bed. they are experts at hiding and staying hidden. The cracks and crevices of head boards, mattresses, box springs and night stands serve as hiding places for bed bugs. Bed bug infestations are not necessarily the result of poor sanitary conditions; however, eliminating clutter will provide less area for hiding and will make treatment more successful.

How do bed bugs spread? Bed bugs are easily introduced into a home or a residential facility. This introduction is done by bringing infest luggage, used furniture, clothing or other belongings from an infested area into a home or residential facility. Bed bugs can also travel from infested rooms or units in hotels and apartments to other rooms or units for a blood meal and they can survive for a long period of time without a blood meal.

What treatments are used to get rid of bed bugs?
Bed bugs are difficult pests to eliminate. Public awareness is an important part of controlling this insect. It is recommended that you use a professional pest control company to control an infestation. Professional pest control companies use a combination of treatment techniques to control the insects. These techniques may include:
  • Heat treatment - heating a room and its contents to above 120 degress Fahrenheit. this is done through the use of a specially designed and approved heating device.
  • Chemical treatment - pest control companies will apply approved chemicals according to the manufacturer's instructions (specifically labeled for indoor use and designed to kill bed bugs) in cracks and crevices where bed bugs hide.
  • Steam treatment - mattresses, box springs and furnitures can be trated with a steam producing device. The high temperatures will kill the bed bugs.
  • Vaccuming - a vacuum is used to physically remove insects from infested areas.
  • Bed bug trained dog - using a bed bug dog team consisting of trained dog and trained handler to locate bed bugs and clear a room for use.
For other tips and tricks, check out 25 Bed Bug Natual Home Remedies and DIY Treatment.

If you are needing to file a compliant, please contact DATCP:

CDC Information on bed bugs
Pest Control Information
EPA Bed Bug Clearinghouse
Wisconsin Pest Control Association
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