nd Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff andsmote the dust of the earth, and there were liceupon men, and upon beast; all the dust of the earth”
(Exodus 8:14).When one thinks about the third plague
, also known as lice, the rst image that comes
to mind is the Egyptians scratching their heads. However, thereare several explanations for what the word
actually refersto.Rav Avigdor Miller explained that
is the plural of
,meaning louse. Therefore,
may refer to an array of parasitesand pests that clung to the bodies and clothes of the Egyptians.
Once they are “established” within the host, these parasites aredifcult to remove and expel from the body. They even have the
potential to burrow under the skin, which may cause rash, fever,nervous complications, meningitis, and a variety of other diseases.
made the epidemic of lice even greater by increasing theirrate of reproduction, from 5000 lice per couple of weeks to somemultiple of that in the same amount of time. As a result, themortality rate of the Egyptians increased to 70 percent. Rav Avig-dor Miller therefore concluded, “Although usually the concept of
refers to lice, yet the term certainly includes all the parasitesthat attach (“establish”) to hosts” .In the past several decades, there has been an emergence of many parasitical infections which come from parasites that canfall under the category of
. One such class of parasites,
, has been reported in people who consume several
kinds of sh including cod, sardines, and salmon. This parasitehas been primarily found to grow in wild-raised sh, as opposed
to the farm-raised variety, because of the ability of the parasiteto lay eggs in the marine species present in natural waters. The
parasite has a remarkable lifecycle which begins whenthe
worm deposits its eggs in a mammal, usually a whaleor dolphin. The marine mammal then excretes unembryonatedeggs in the ocean which develop into embryonated eggs and arethen ingested by crustaceans. Predators within the ocean such as
salmon or ounder consume the host and the
pierce into the visceral organs of the host sh. These sh are later
ingested by humans and can induce harmful effects to the human
PlAgue 3:More ThAn JuST heAd lice
digestive tract .
In 1981, there were reports of parasites that have primarily affected members of Jewish Orthodox communities. The para
-site that caused these problems was found to be the tapeworm,
. This parasite has spurred problems speci
cally among Jewish Orthodox women because they would preparegelte sh and taste the raw mixture. After such news emerged,many became cautious of raw sh which can cause a great deal
of abdominal discomfort due to the tapeworms residing in the
Moreover, in 1991, there was an emergence of neurocystic-
ercosis among four Orthodox Jewish families in New York. Neu
-rocysticercosis is infected tissue in the brain that is induced by
, a pork tapeworm. One may ask, if Orthodox Jews
adhere to strict dietary laws that prohibit the ingestion of pork,how is the presence of the
tapeworm possible among these households? The sources of infection were discovered to bethe domestic employees living in these Jewish households. Thesedomestic employees were immigrants from Central America where the tapeworm is prevalent. In a particular study, the stoolsof Central American immigrants in North Carolina were testedfor the
tapeworm and it was conrmed that 4.4% of the
tested population contained the tapeworm. Housekeepers whooriginated from Central America who handled food and weregiven child care responsibilities, facilitated the emergence of thistapeworm in a homogenous community where people displayedsimilar hiring practices .
According to the Soncino Edition of Exodus 8:12,
sand ies . A parasitic disease known as visceral leishmania
sis is transmitted through the bite of a sand y and causes sores
i th past sva as, th hasb a m may paastats whh m m paasts thata a u th atay km.