Body Lice among People Experiencing Homelessness and Access to Hygiene Services during the COVID-19 Pandemic—Preventing Trench Fever in Denver, Colorado, 2020

View More View Less
  • 1 Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver, Colorado;
  • | 2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia;
  • | 3 Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, Atlanta, Georgia;
  • | 4 University of Colorado Denver, Denver, Colorado

Eight people with human body louse-borne Bartonella quintana infections were detected among people experiencing homelessness (PEH) in Denver during January–September 2020, prompting a public health investigation and community outreach. Public health officials conducted in-person interviews with PEH to more fully quantify body lice prevalence, transmission risk factors, access to PEH resources, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected resource access. Recent body lice exposure was reported by 35% of 153 interview participants. In total, 75% of participants reported reduced access to PEH services, including essential hygiene activities to prevent body lice, during Colorado’s COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. Future pandemic planning should consider hygiene resource allocation for PEH populations to prevent emerging and reemerging infections such as B. quintana.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Kristen E. Marshall, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 4900 Cherry Creek Dr. South, Denver, CO 80246. E-mail: kristen.marshall@state.co.us

Financial support: Coauthors were funded by the CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service Fellowship award, the CSTE Applied Epidemiology Fellowship Award, and by ELC Cooperative Grant Funding.

Disclaimer: The findings and conclusions of this report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists.

Authors’ addresses: Kristen E. Marshall, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver, CO, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, E-mail: kristen.marshall@state.co.us. Heather E. Martinez, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver, CO, and Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, Atlanta, GA, E-mail: heather.h.martinez@state.co.us. Tracy Woodall, Andrés Guerrero, Rachel Herlihy, and Jennifer House, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver, CO, E-mails: sunshinin2020@gmail.com, andres.guerrero@state.co.us, rachel.herlihy@state.co.us, and jennifer.house@state.co.us. Jessica Mechtenberg, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, CO, E-mail: XXXXX.

Save