I don't know about all of you, but I always assumed that a "cootie" was just a vague imaginary disease that kids use to alienate each other. Not so!
Cooties are actual things, defined as "body louses", which are small insects that are usually parasitic.
It was a general term that began in World War I (circa 1917) to describe any number of vermin (lice, fleas, etc) that a soldier could pick up living in the trenches. The word is thought to have come from the Austronesian word "kutu", which means "lice". Soldiers who traveled to Polynesia, the Philippines, or Malaya could have brought the word back west.
Kids picked up the term later for fun.
That information certainly makes this game from my childhood more logical. :)
Aw, they look so happy!
Bonus fun fact: One early 20th Century treatment for cooties was a pickle-juice-solution bath! Maybe it would also work for this bedbug outbreak? Anyone want to try it?