Researchers from the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI) have found more than 1100 jiggers embedded in the feet and hands of a 78-year-old woman. They have published her case in the Journal of Medical Case Reports.
The report is titled: “Disseminated tungiasis in a 78-year-old woman from Tanzania: a case report.”
Jiggers are small parasitic fleas, also known as Chigoe Flea in West Africa. In Tanzania, they are known as Funza in Kiswahili. They usually enter their victims through their feet, causing parts of the body to rot.
The JKCI researchers report that the woman actually has a disease described medically as Tungiasis. By the time of her diagnosis, she had developed fever, as she had been infested with 812 jiggers in her feet and 334 in her hands.
Tungiasis is a neglected tropical disease that affects up to 40 percent of individuals in societies with poor housing and sanitation standards.
In September last year villagers in the Southwestern Tanzanian District of Rungwe were in a panic due to what was described by the villagers as an outbreak of jigger flea infestation, according to a local news outlet, The Guardian.
The disease compromises quality of life, says a report published in the Journal of Medical Case reports. “….it is preventable and curable,’’ say the researchers, suggesting… “…prompt treatment is crucial to prevent complications in this disease.”