Health project: follow up jigger outreach
Today’s adventure commenced with a casual 2 hour stroll to our neighbouring village- Kibuyuni. We were on a hunt for jiggers! My first thoughts when hearing about our planned ‘Jigger Outreach’ was what actually was a jigger? Searching the power of all knowledge, Wiki revealed. A Jigger may refer to:
– a hand-operated railway car
– a measure of alcoholic beverage ingredients, and the tool used to measure them
– a pallet jack
– a hidden button on a double breasted suit
– an obsolete golf club
– Chigoe flea, a parasitic arthropod found in tropical climates that may cause an inflammatory skin disease
In careful consideration I decided it must be the Chigoe fleas we were targeting and not an expedition to build the school children railway cars!
At 1 mm long, the chigoe flea is the smallest known flea. Breeding female chigoes burrow into exposed skin on the feet of humans and remain there for two weeks while developing eggs. During this time the fleas swell dramatically, sometimes causing intense irritation (condition called tungiasis). Following this point, the skin lesion looks like a 5- to 10-mm blister with a central black dot- this is the flea’s exposed hind legs, respiratory spiracles and reproductive organs. If the flea is left within the skin, dangerous complications can occur including secondary infections, loss of nails, and toe deformation.
Our journey began at the dispensary collecting supplies for our attack
Antiseptic Wash, Gauze for scrubbing, Antibiotic Cream and Vaseline. Joining us we our partners from Rise and Shine and Shimoni Dispensary. We wondered through the beautiful surroundings on a glorious sunny day encountering much wildlife and scenery on the way- a family of Colobus Monkeys, Dung Beetles, Hibiscus flowers and the ‘Door to the Enchanted City’ (a lone standing door in an area of forest and scrubs)!
Arriving at Kibuyuni Primary School we were quickly introduced to the Principal and staff. The children were promptly organised into queues and the production line began!
“Scrub the jiggers, soak the jiggers, vaseline the jiggers all over”!
The children’s feet were scrubbed with gauze and antiseptic to remove exposed fleas. Any open wounds are treated with antibiotic cream and then all bites were then smothered with Vaseline in an attempt to suffocate and kill off the fleas.
Jiggers pose a complex problem for the local coastal communities of Kenya. As the fleas thrive in sandy conditions ongoing education must focus on strategies of prevention. We hope to work with our partners the Community Health Workers to provide education not only to schools but also to parents on the importance of foot hygiene, avoidance of jiggers and regular use of footwear or matting in sandy areas.
Belinda Kerr – Health Project Volunteer
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