The end of my first week and so much is running around inside my head. Much of the time when arriving somewhere is sorting out who is who, what the most important parts of the project are, and what the next most urgent steps are. Looks like some improvements to the accounting system, and some teaching lessons for me might be order. More on the project another day, as I want to share all about ‘jiggers’. These were a bit of a shock to me, but are in fact ‘sand fleas’ which live in dry dusty sandy areas in tropical areas.

According to the internet “tungiasis” is an infestation of the skin by the sand flea. The pregnant female flea burrows under the skin, sucks blood, swells, and releases hundreds of eggs. Apparently “…complications, though rare, may involve ulceration, gangrene, secondary infection, tetanus, and death…”. Well, totally destroyed feet are certainly another complication of at least one of the orphans here! He’s had so many jiggers in his feet, especially around his toes, that there is not a lot of intact skin left to borrow into.

The poor little kid has a list of things going against him, including being ‘like a cat’ according to Hassel, in his dislike of water. We’ll have to figure out some better way of treating jiggers than individual extraction as suggested by most medical texts. I think standing him in a bowl of DDT might have some effect.

As to their history I found it interesting enough to quote here “…originally, the sand flea was only present in Latin American and the Caribbean. It was most likely introduced into Africa in 1873 by the infested crew and sand on board the ship Thomas Mitchell travelling from Brazil to Angola. Within 20 years, the flea spread from Angola to the West Coast of Africa and throughout the sub-Saharan region eventually to East Africa and Madagascar. In 1899, Indian soldiers brought the flea to Bombay, India and Karachi, Pakistan…”. That’s quite some travelling flea.

Will check my feet before returning home, don’t worry!


Steve said…
Wow, those jiggers are fascinating little creatures, I had no idea they existed. Nasty little fellows as well. Hope you find a solution for them :-)

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