About Jiggers

What are Jiggers?
Jigger - Bug
Jiggers are small animals normally fleas or commonly refereed to as bug, They are most found in sandy or dusty  and dirty places. Jiggers are parasites on other animals and therefore feed on blood by burrowing into hosts skin. Human Being found themselves harboring these bugs. Continent infested includes Asia, South America but mostly African continent.

Many Countries in Africa,  Jiggers infestation is being triggers largely by poverty and poor hygiene standards. One of the African most hit country is Kenya, though efforts are being done to revert the situation but still majority are languishing from jigger menace.

Jigger is small tiny  bug, can be seen when it sits on an object.The abdomen is white with eggs that appears black. 

The Jigger Menace
Jigger bug since its a poor jumper or doesn't fly  high around 30 - 50 cm high. It attaches itself on lower areas  of the host (since its a parasite). This parasite enters into warm blooded animals head first and lays an egg.One into the hosts skin and the jigger egg is laid, it grows from the host body nutrition and swells to a pinkish or reddish organism with itchy effects that leaves the hosts with lots of pain.

Note:- Jiggers lay eggs in multiples within a very short span.They are dangerous and cause death

Kenya as the most hit country local people and with the help of the Kenyan government and the international communities and NGOs have started projects to curd this problem once and for all.

Jigger infestation and attack is a threat to Kenyan people, not sparing the coastal region, where this problem is eminent extreme cases of total paralysis of the affected body parts has been reported. Despite the “pain’’ associated with the pest attack to the entire communities at large.

Child Care and Jigger Eradication Program is the only program in Kilifi county coast province that has dedicated its efforts and scarce resources to help poor families who are suffering from this jigger menace. Areas like Ganze Kilifi, Tezo, Msabaha, Gilore and many many parts of Kilifi county are heavily infested with jiggers and cases of deaths resulting from these fleas have been reported. This Jigger eradication program is ran by God fearing members who have sense of human feel hence the move to help other people.

Problem Associated with Jiggers
The female sand flea (Tunga Penetrans), which is also known as the jigger or sand flea, (jigger in Kenya), is causing untold suffering to both children and adults. The female feeds by burrowing into the skin of its host. The flea’s abdomen becomes enormously enlarged so that it forms a round sac with the shape and size of a pea.

Jiggers thrive where there are few made roads, dirt floors and animals mixing freely with people, normally found in the sandy terrain of warm, dry climates. It prefers deserts, beaches, stables, stock farms, and the soil and dust close to farms. Children are especially vulnerable because very few have shoes, so their feet are in constant contact with soil and dusty floors.

What are effects of Jigger infestation?
Heavy infestations can lead to severe inflammation, ulceration and fibrosis. Lymphangitis, gangrene, sepsis, the loss of toenails, auto-amputation of the digits and even death are potential outcomes. The risk of secondary infection is high. Tetanus is a common secondary infection that has reported associations with death.

A clear effect of the attack is the inability to walk easily due to pain in the affected areas of the legs, inability to carry out normal day to day activities (work and walking to school for example), stigmatization by neighbours and low self esteem resulting from the stigmatization.

If hands are infested, therefore the victim find it hard to hold thing because they eventually fell off when the itching starts.

Another noted problem that may be caused by jigger infestation is the risk of passing on blood transmitted infections such as HIV / AIDS by using unsterilized equipment to remove the bugs from different people. It has been noted that many people can share a single pin to extract jiggers - a situation that exposes individuals to HIV infection from those who already have the virus.

What are the Jigger infection symptoms and signs?
The first evidence of infestation by this sand flea is a tiny black dot on the skin at the point of penetration. Because the flea is a poor jumper, most lesions occur on the feet, often on the soles, the toe webs, and around or under the toenails. A small, inflammatory papule with a central black dot forms early. 
The papule slowly enlarges into a white, pea-sized nodule within the first few weeks; multiple/severe infestations may result in a cluster of nodules with a honeycomb appearance.

While both male and female sand fleas intermittently feed on their warm-blooded hosts, it is the pregnant female flea that burrows into the skin of the host and causes the lesion. She attaches to the skin by her anchoring mouth and claws violently into the epidermis. The "black dot" of the nodule is the posterior end of the flea sticking out. The opening provides the flea with air and an exit route for faeces and eggs. With its head in the dermis, the flea begins to feed on the host's blood and enlarges up to 1cm in diameter. 

Jigger flea life cycle
Within two weeks, over 100 eggs are released through the exposed opening and fall to the ground. 

The eggs hatch on the ground in 3-4 days. Within the subsequent 3-4 weeks, they go through their larval and pupae stages and become adults and the process starts all over again. The complete life cycle of a Tunga penetrans lasts about a month.