Lice are mentioned in the Bible as the third plague visited on the Egyptians when the
Pharaoh denied the request of Moses to let the Israelites go. From Sumerian, Akkadian,
Egyptian, and Biblical sources it is evident that the ancient inhabitants of the Middle East
were well acquainted with head lice (1). Nine-thousand-year-old louse eggs were found
on hair samples from an individual who lived in Nahal Hemar Cave near the Dead Sea
(2). Head lice and their eggs have also been found in combs recovered from
archaeological excavations in the Judean and Negev deserts of Israel, including from
Masada and Qumran (3, 4, 5).
Head lice were quite common in Israel before and during the two WW. In the first years
of its independence and during the large immigration to Israel, DDT and later Lindane
were used to control head and body lice. In the 1950’ to 1965’s head louse infestations
became quite rare, arriving gradually to epidemic dimensions thereafter (6, 7). Today,
head louse infestations continue to be an important public health concern.