Mar 20, 2009

A Lousy Affair

This poor fish has an infestation of sea lice, and he doesn't look to be doing well. Many dozens of species of fish in the cold waters off Norway's coast are infected with them, and many experts are concerned about how the infestation will spread from wild populations to farmed stock.

I had lice twice while I was in elementary school, and the worst of it was the itching and the treatment (a scalp soak in cod liver oil). But I couldn't imagine what my horror would have been if my eight-year-old scalp had been beset by parasites proportionally as large as these...

...or if I were to look one in the face and see this staring back at me (color added to electron microscope image to freak you out). Do they have to look so hunched over and eager to suck out my juices?

Photo source: Kevin Mackenzie

Once again, I've been blessed to have been raised in a temperate climate, largely free of significant parasites, and that I'm not a Norwegian fish.

Thanks for the links, Rebecca.


Anonymous said...

Consider yourself lucky. The traditional cure for lice was either shaving your head or soaking your hair in kerosene (later, gasoline was used).

Keera Ann Fox said...

Norway checking in to comment: We've killed off entire rivers trying to rid the wild salmon of its lice, but because the farmed fish keep getting the lice - and escaping from their farms - the wild ones keep getting reinfected. Also, the lice are getting immune to the delousing products we currently have available.

I think human head lice are a far kinder creature. But you need to post a close-up so we can tell for sure. :-)

Vanessa said...

He is actually pretty neat, if you aren't a fish.