Child Dies of Chronic Head Lice, Parents Charged with Negligence

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child died of lice

Head lice in children may be considered normal by some people. But who would have thought, a child died from a severe head lice attack.

The cause of the death of a girl named Kaitlyn should have been avoided. However, his parents neglected to let head lice suck the blood of the child for the past three years.

Experiencing Severe Anemia Due to Flea Bites

The 12 year old little girl has no bruises all over her body. He also did not suffer from malnutrition according to prosecutors. In short, there was no sign of the violence that Kaitlyn might have experienced.

Kaitlyn’s parents. Photo: The New York Times

Kaitlyn Yozviak had just eaten before her mother found her unconscious in late August at their home in rural Georgia. He had a flea attack so severe that the doctor who treated him the day he died said it was enough to kill him.

Presumably, the cause of death was a heart attack. The secondary cause was severe anemia from repeated flea bites, which lowered the hemoglobin level in his blood.

Related article: This 4-year-old boy almost went deaf due to fleas getting into his ears

Child Dies of Fleas, Parents Tried for Negligence

The girl’s parents, John Joseph Yozviak, 38, and Mary Katherine Horton, 37, were arrested and charged with murder. They are considered negligent in taking care of children.

Lawyer Mr. Yozviak, Keri Foster Thompson, said that his client was innocent, he felt really devastated and heartbroken.

child died of lice

The Kaitlyn Family Residence. Photo:

“Evidence will ultimately show that Mr Yozviak was a loving and devoted father,” Thompson said.

However, the Georgia State Department of Family and Child Services maintains some dark records about how Kaitlyn’s parents raised their children. It was noted that Kaitlyn’s two brothers had to be kicked out of the house because the condition of the house was very dirty for a child to live properly.

In fact, in 2008 when Kaitlyn was just born, her father and mother had planned to give the tiny baby up for adoption. At that time Kaitlyn’s family did not have a home, her father worked odd jobs while her mother did not work at all.

A child dies of chronic head lice, parents are considered negligent

Kaitlyn was little when she was about to be adopted. Photo: First Coast News

However, the plan was not carried out. Kaitlyn remains under the care of her biological parents. During her lifetime, the poor girl grew up in a very dirty house, filled with cats, dirt, insects and fleas.

The child is neglected. In fact, the mother herself admitted before the judge that more than a week before her death, Kaitlyn had not bathed at all.

Until now, the legal process for Kaitlyn’s death is still ongoing. Autopsy results are being awaited to determine the official cause of death.

Related article: Knowing the life cycle of head lice in children and how to deal with it

Can Fleas Cause Death?

A child dies of chronic head lice, parents are considered negligent

Launch The New York Times, lice on the body can carry potentially lethal bacteria, but head lice need a living host to continue feeding on blood, says Alejandra Perotti, a professor of invertebrate biology at the UK’s University of Reading. He has studied how fleas and mites can help determine the cause of death.

Dr. Perotti said, the presence of severe lice is characterized by the number of nits on one strand of hair. Such conditions are very common in children who are neglected by their parents or caregivers.

“A severe flea problem in a deceased person usually co-occurs with serious neglect. As a result of this neglect, his health condition has worsened,” he explained.

A child dies of chronic head lice, parents are considered negligent

There have been cases of children with severe head lice who have been hospitalized for anemia to very low hemoglobin levels, said Dr. Mary Groll, a pediatrician and professor of health sciences at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois.

“But I never knew there were deaths from lice,” said Dr. Grolls.

He added, it is possible for a child to suffer from a fatal arrhythmia (heart beat disorder) if the hemoglobin level drops drastically. However, according to him, before concluding that the cause is lice alone, doctors need to find out if there are other factors, such as diet or menstruation.


Parents, regardless of whether Kaitlyn’s main cause of death was lice or not, it’s clear that chronic lice problems have made her health condition worse. If your little one at home is also facing the problem of head lice, immediately find a way to deal with it.

Read also:

Why Are Headlices a Teacher’s Concern in the Netherlands?

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