It is a disease of poverty and war, and is spread largely by the body-louse, as happened in Serbia in 1915.
I'm in the right cue now, as brisk as a body-louse, and as merry as a beggar.
Brisk as a body-louse she trips,Clean as a penny drest; Sweet as a rose her breath and lips,Round as the globe her breast.
"parasitic insect infecting human hair and skin," Old English lus, from Proto-Germanic *lus (cf. Old Norse lus, Middle Dutch luus, Dutch luis, Old High German lus, German Laus), from PIE *lus- "louse" (cf. Welsh lleuen "louse"). Slang meaning "obnoxious person" is from 1630s. The plural lice (Old English lys) shows effects of i-mutation. The verb meaning "to clear of lice" is from late 14c.; to louse up "ruin, botch" first attested 1934, from the literal sense (of bedding), from 1931.
n. pl. lice (līs)
Any of numerous small, flat-bodied, wingless biting or sucking insects of the orders Mallophaga or Anoplura, many of which are external parasites on humans.
body louse n.
A parasitic louse that infests the body and clothes of humans.