The pubic lice may have met a predator it can’t overcome: the Brazilian bikini wax.
As Bloomberg News reported on Sunday, an increased emphasis on pubic maintenance has diminished infestations of the crab-footed bugs.
“We put the flag out, so to speak, if we see a case of pubic lice nowadays,” said Janet Wilson, a sexual health consultant based out of Leeds, England. “The ‘habitat destruction’ of the pubic lice is increasing and they are becoming an endangered species.”
While studies as recent as 2009 found Phthirus pubis afflicted between 2 and 10 percent of the human population, England is one of several countries reporting a steep drop in cases: Sexual health practitioners in Sydney, Australia, have reported not having to treat a woman for pubic lice since 2008, with male cases dropping by 80 percent over the past decade.
By comparison, a 2003 survey of Australian residents listed the louses as the most common symptom reported in sexually transmmitted infections. A third of the country’s population reported suffering a “visit” by the lice at some point in their lives.
A 2011 study at Kenyon College in Ohio pointed to a similar upswing in genital upkeep among American college students, led by women. One report said that one in seven U.S. men between the ages of 25 and 34 had waxed their body hair.
“Pubic grooming has led to a severe depletion of crab louse populations,” said Ian F. Burgess, a medical entomologist based out of Cambridge, England. “Add to that other aspects of body hair depilation, and you can see an environmental disaster in the making for this species.”
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