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THE JIGGER MENACE IN CHILDREN

Updated on January 27, 2013

The little parasite that kills all calm

INTRODUCTION.

In the non biological sense, a jigger is a device used by mixologists and bartenders to combine various recipes of drinks. This time I am talking about the jigging of a parasite within human flesh. They cause extreme itching and pain to their victims. This kind of jigging can produce in a child; restlessness,edginess,poor appetite, susceptibility to opportunistic infections, loss of toes, distorted shape of legs and can be life threatening. Jiggers completely jig the lives of their victims.

WHAT IS THE JIGGER?

This is a flea that mostly lives in dry sand and soil .It is roughly 0.9 mm in size. It is the smallest in the flea family. Thrives by burrowing itself into the flesh of warm-blooded animals head first and hind legs out, feeding on blood within the cutaneous and subcutaneous layers of skin, laying eggs outside in the soil to continue its cycle. They are mostly found in the tropics and subtropics. I will concentrate on the effects of jigger infestation on growth in children. The jigger is a bug of the low income populations .It also is common where people live with furred animals and the conditions of accommodation is congested and filthy. Dirty and warm areas are good breeding grounds for the flea

Hands and legs destroyed by the jigger

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LIFE CYCLE OF THE JIGGER

The impregnated(inseminated by the temporary blood sucking males) female parasite attacks exposed skin, it burrows itself head first into the skin, leaving a section of its abdomen out through a pore in the skin, this enables it to breathe and carry out other metabolic functions, while feeding on blood vessels in the skin. The flea area looks like a dark spot. Its abdomen may noticeably grow due to development and continuous growth of the eggs within it. When the eggs are ready they are released though the orifice left through the skin. The eggs are released to the outside. They take about 9 days to hatch into fleas to continue the flea life cycle. It is important to note that one female flea may lay hundreds of eggs, meaning that if the situation in not corrected urgently it can easily be out of control. The female parasite having laid eggs dies.

The eggs of the flea..laid from within the human body

JIGGER ATTACKS ON MINORS

The jigger menace is mostly a problem of the poor. Those that live under squalid conditions. Children have no capacity to move away to better, safer, homesteads, they live where they are born. A hardworking adult may choose how to change his/her life, a child does not have any options. Some children too are born of parents who do not care about hygiene; before they learn how to take care of themselves they may be damaged by this parasite. It is harder too for children born with disability, this group may be depended on adults longer than their other counterparts, and this makes them even bigger victims of this bug. The jigger attacks more children too because they play a lot in sand and soil, poor children walk barefoot , exposing more skin to the female bug, children play sitting naked in soil using their hands ,making it easier for jiggers to burrow in the hand ,elbows and gluteal areas in addition to their legs

Legs of an affected minor

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HIGH RISK SITUATIONS

Filthy conditions; promote breeding of the flea

Poverty; inability to afford shoes; walking barefoot and exposing skin to flea, inability to afford detergents like potassium permanganate to fight the already burrowed bug

Sharing housing with animals

Lack of basic sanitary amenities

EFFECTS OF ATTACK BY JIGGERS

Lumphangitis, gangrene, sepsis.

Loss of toes

Limb amputations

Poor school performance and drop out

Poor health

Low self esteem

Permanent distortion of shape of legs and hands

Loss of life

Effects of jiggers

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RECOMMENDATIONS

Individuals need to maintain personal hygiene. Where the housing space is small alternatives should be found for animals. It is not worth risking. Children are called that way because they cannot take care of themselves just yet! They should not be neglected or left to care of uncaring parents and caregivers. Where such is the case, public health workers and neighbours should step in to avert the damage. Governments in developing countries need to find ways of providing primary and affordable amenities and healthcare facilities within close proximity of low income populations.

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