A 22-year-old woman from Saudia Arabia, arrived at a hospital complaining of heart palpitations, light-headedness, fatigue and chest pain when she exercised.
She told doctors she had depression, which began when her mother died four years previously, and took anti-depressants.
For the past four months, her periods had also stopped, doctors recording her case in the medical journal BMJ Case Reports said.
After carrying out a series of tests, doctors discovered she had iron deficiency, known medically as anaemia. She had a haemoglobin level of 2.2 g/L and a haematocrit of 12 per cent, which indicated a severe iron deficiency.
However, doctors ruled out all the known causes of iron deficiency, which include heavy periods, internal bleeding, malnutrition and not being able to absorb the nutrient.
As she had been eating three meals a day, it was unlikely that the illness was being caused by insufficient iron in her diet.
Doctors noticed her head was covered with lice, and lice nits were visible. And when they examined her scalp, they found scratch marks.
She was given two units of packed red blood cells, iron tablets and a medicated shampoo for the head lice.
After a month of taking the supplements and receiving psychological therapy, her symptoms improved, doctors said.
‘Heavy and chronic lice infestation can be associated with severe iron deficiency anaemia,’ concluded doctors writing in the journal.
‘Lice infestation also known as Pediculosis Capitis should be considered as a possible cause of iron deficiency anaemia in patients with poor hygiene, such as children, homeless patients and psychiatric patients.’
The worst head lice video in the world (Warning- Very Graphic!)