The sand flea
Commonly known as jigger is the world’s smallest flea. As the name suggests it leaves in the sand waiting for a host to step on it. Once the jigger attaches itself to a host it burrows it’s head in the flesh and leaves it’s abdomen out. After two weeks this nasty parasites’ stomach is full of eggs. Once the eggs hatch the baby jiggers also burrow on the poor hosts feet and continue feeding and producing eggs.
The itch and irritation caused by mosquito bites is nothing compared to jiggers. These bugs are very common in tropical and subtropical climates. Victims are mostly poor people who don’t wear shoes and or work in farms or jobs where there is a lot of contact to sand and soil.
In Kenya according to a recent survey over 1.4 million people suffer from jigger infestation. Most of these are kids leaving in rural areas. In Kilifi for example I have seen first-hand how terrible and painful it is to have jiggers in your feet.
At a school where I taught there were a number of kids who had jiggers on their feet. The sight of the black spots on the sole of their feet is harrowing. Then there is that constant unending itch that is so painful one would wish to have their toes severed. To make it worse the natural way to react to an itch is to scratch. When the victims scratch their feet and rub them against the ground they just make it worse by spreading the eggs to other parts of the feet.
Apart from the itching jigger infestation leads to deformation of the feet it could also lead to amputation and worse still death.
Treatment and control of jiggers is not difficult if the bugs are identified at an early stage. It includes washing feet with a solution which kills the bugs.
In very serious cases the bugs have to be cut out of the skin by hand one by one which is a painful and expensive experience.
It is very easy to prevent being attacked by jiggers. Simply by wearing shoes and maintaining high hygienic standards for example bathing and cleaning one’s home and environment.
ZAWADI has so far helped a family of a single deaf mother with four kids fight against the jiggers.
The poor family has been living in a mud structure and thatched roof (Makuti). Without beds, shoes and poor hygienic conditions the four kids were perfect victims for a jigger infestation.
Luckily our field officer identified the problem at an early stage and we managed to treat the kids and got rid of the jiggers. We also bought all of them shoes and made repairs on their house. Our field officer also educated the single deaf mum on how to maintain high hygienic standards to avoid jiggers.
The family are now happy in their new renovated house and with their jigger free feet.
That is just one isolated case, there are many more children suffering from jiggers. ZAWADI is organising a campaign to eliminate jiggers from the feet of the kids in the Kilifi community.
Your help will be most appreciated. Feel free to contact us on Facebook or by email. We will be happy to discuss how you can help.