What is Tungiosis?

Tungiosis (tungiasis, sarcopsillosis) – infection with eggs of the sand flea Tunga penetrans, which penetrates the skin of the feet and lays eggs there.

Tungiosis occurs in areas of Central and South America, in Africa and on the west coast of India.

Causes of Tungiosis

Tungiosis is caused by the pregnant female of the tropical sand flea Tunga penetrans (chiggers), which breaks through the skin (usually through the toenail) to lay eggs.

After 3-4 days the larvae hatch from them. The larvae live on a dirt floor, in dry sandy soils, in shady corners of the beaches. They feed on organic matter, pupate in 3 weeks and then turn into adult fleas. Fleas jump, and although most often they affect the feet, the natives, who squat for a long time, are surprised by the crotch and buttocks.

Tungiosis is seasonal. There is a high risk of infection during the period of rapid development of vegetation, when fleas become active and appear in large numbers.

Pathogenesis during Tungiosis

A fertilized female flea makes a move in the epidermis to the border with the dermis. It feeds on blood from the vessels of the papillary dermis. When a flea grows in size to 5-8 mm, pain occurs. Ripe eggs (150-200 pieces) stand out one by one from the hole at the end of the abdomen of the flea for 7-10 days. Soon after the laying of eggs, the female dies, and an ulcer is often formed at the site of injury. If the body parts of the flea remain in the skin, inflammation and secondary infections develop.

Symptoms of Tungiosis

The incubation period is 8-12 days after the introduction of fleas into the skin.

In order to penetrate the skin, the flea does not destroy it itself, but releases certain enzymes that eat away the surface of the skin. This fluid causes local pain and swelling, a blister appears. Intense itching may persist for several days after the flea has left the skin. As the fleas grow, pain, itching, swelling occur. As a rule, the foot or lower leg is affected, but any localization is possible. Subungual lesions are especially painful. If not treated, a secondary infection may occur, which can lead to gangrene and sepsis.

Diagnosis of Tungiosis

Tungiosis is usually diagnosed by the nature and location of the wound and is confirmed after removal of the affected skin area by surgery, by examining which you can see the flea and its eggs.

Tungiosis Treatment

Minimal surgical intervention is the only way to remove a flea, and although many of the locals have the skill to perform this operation themselves, often in such cases sterility is not ensured, therefore it is best to see a doctor. Attach a sterile bandage to the wound, and in the event of signs of secondary infection, start taking antibiotics (flucoxacillin, co-imoxiclav or erythromycin).

Prevention of Tungiosis

Try not to walk barefoot in potentially dangerous areas, and also not to sit or lie directly on the ground. In places where the risk of infection is high, use insect repellents. After walking through the area where tropical sandy fleas can live, wash your feet in a warm bath. Usually this procedure prevents the penetration of fleas under the skin. Although the most reliable way to protect – wearing a closed, tight shoes.