The term tungiasis refers to an ectoparasitic infestation caused by a female ectoparasite called tunga penetrans flea. The flea is locally known by different names such as chigger flea, sand flea, chigoe, jigger, nigua, pigue, or le bicho de pe. The disease was first reported in Christopher Columbus's crewmen. The flea burrows into the skin of humans as well as animals. It reproduces in the warm- blooded host. The tunga flea is common in the tropical parts of Africa, West Indies and Caribbean regions. The increased number of travelers to the affected areas increases the risk of translocation of the disease.
Severe itching, pain, localized blisters, fibrous cyst, inflammation and discharge from the swellings are the common symptoms of tungiasis. Severe infestation leads to ulceration and fibrosis. In humans the infection is mostly found in feet especially between the toes and toe-nails. Tungiasis if left untreated may lead to secondary infections such as bacteremia, gangrene and tetanus.
The visible symptoms of tungiasis are sufficient for diagnosis. However the doctor may also ask for traveling history of the patient. Tungiasis is confirmed if the patient had been to areas where the ectoparasite is prevalent.
Treatment options for tungiasis include surgical removal of the parasite. Topical antibiotic medication is used after the surgical extraction to avoid secondary infection. surgery is often preferred to remove flea engorged with blood.
The following are the other treatment options for tungiosis.
The following are the necessary precautions to prevent tungiasis.