Jiggers Out!

Jiggers are insects living in the soil which burrow into the children’s feet. A jigger infestation, known as tungiasis, can be very painful. The larvae live a few centimetres under sand or soil, feeding on organic matter. The larvae moult to adults about 1mm in size and move to the skin of a variety of mammals including  humans.The females burrow into the skin and feed on blood by inserting their proboscis into dermal capillaries. They quickly swell as they become full of eggs which are shed into the environment, after which the females die. Penetration of the skin causes intense itching and is followed by inflammation and acute pain. The jigger is evident as a small swollen lesion, with a black dot at the centre, which can grow to the size of a pea.

It is obvious that removal of jiggers is a great relief to people who are affected. The risk of acute pathology can be prevented by removal of the jigger with a sterile needle and disinfection of the affected area. However, in poor rural or shanty-town settings non-sterile objects are often used to winkle the jigger out, including thorns or non-sterile pins, thereby introducing more bacteria.  (See  Google, Jigger infestation  and BugBitten)

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