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Poultry Lice: Can Humans Get Lice from Chickens?

Poultry Lice: Can Humans Get Lice from Chickens?
Updated on 
June 6, 2022

It’s not as uncommon today to find homes where chickens are present. Many families, even in urban areas, have begun to raise chickens to harvest their farm-fresh eggs. This may lead to your family having more opportunities to interact with chickens. As with most species, chickens carry lice, so you may be wondering if chicken lice are contagious to humans? If so what kind of head lice treatment is available for poultry lice?


What does chicken lice look like? The most common form of chicken louse is the chicken body louse, but chickens can also be infested by a feather shaft louse which is less common. They appear yellow or brown in color and have 6 legs and a set of antenna. This type of louse lives on the chicken on its body in various spots. Chickens that are losing a lot of their feathers may have contracted a case of chicken lice. Chickens can also become infested with mites, however, these are not lice.


Do chickens carry lice? Yes, they do. If your family has recently been in contact with chickens, knowing that these animals also have lice, you’re likely worried can humans get lice from chickens? Rest assured, chicken lice are species-specific; the lice that infest chickens need the environment of the bird to survive and cannot survive on humans. If you find poultry lice on humans, do not be worried. These lice will die quickly, so you do not need to concern yourself with how to get rid of chicken lice on humans. If you have been in contact with chickens that have lice, and subsequently find chicken lice on your clothing or person, rest assured that humans cannot contract a case of chicken lice. Once they fall off, whether by washing the clothes that were worn, showering, or even if left alone on a human, these lice will die fast without a new chicken host. If you feel itchy after touching your chickens, you may have picked up some mites from the bird. These parasites will live on a human for a short period of time.


what does chicken lice look like

Conversely, human lice cannot be transmitted to chickens. Whether that be head, pubic, or body lice, these types of lice are specific to humans only. They cannot be transferred to chickens or any other animal. Human lice need the environment the human provides to survive. In the case of head lice, they need the hair to cling to and the warmth of the human head, as well as blood from a human scalp to sustain life. Once off the head, these lice will begin to weaken, and without a new human host, will die within 24-48 hours. Even if they make their way onto another living creature, like a chicken, the human louse will not survive. So when interacting with a flock and wondering do chickens have lice from humans, urban and rural farmers can rest assured that their flock is safe. Treatment for lice should be specific to each species. To summarize:

  • Humans cannot get chicken lice;
  • Chickens cannot get human lice;
  • Human lice die after falling off the human;
  • Chicken lice die after falling off of a chicken;
  • Chicken lice treatment products should only be used on chickens;
  • Human lice treatment products should only be used on humans.

If you have head lice you have caught it from another person. Telltale signs include:

  • Itchiness;
  • Sleeplessness;
  • Tingling on the head, especially at night when the bugs are most active.

It is important to recognize that some people with lice are asymptomatic. If you have been exposed to head lice, it is a good idea to get checked.       


Upon finding lice on a family member after a visit to a local farm, rest assured the case did not originate from the animals that you interacted with on that visit. It’s a coincidence that lice were subsequently found after the visit. Treatment, however, of human head lice is necessary as lice will not go away on their own. To schedule a lice treatment contact us online or by calling 800-224-2537. The treatment available from LiceDoctors is mobile, so a technician will come to your home or farm to treat your family using an all-natural treatment that is safe for everyone!

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