Burrowing Flea

Tungidae, Tunga penetrans. Spanish: Nigua, chique (General). Portuguese: Bicho de pe, bicho de porco, jatecuba (Brazil). Indian: Sika, tunga (Brazil). French: Chique. Chigoe, jigger, sand flea.

Unlike other fleas, females of this species work their way into the skin of their hosts and encyst, enlarging to several times their original size, up to the size of a small pea (3-5 mm diameter) (fig. 7.3g). The male, which is mobile and active throughout its life, copulates with the female after she has completely penetrated the skin. Females may enter skin anywhere on the body but most often burrow under the toenails or into the soles of the feet of humans where the pressure of their growth causes great discomfort. Nodular, ulcerating swellings result. Persons going barefoot in infested areas (usually where pigs, the usual alternate hosts, are common) are likeliest to pick up the fleas in this way. They are removed only precariously with the tip of a sterile needle; if the insect's body is ruptured, infection and immune reactions with serious consequences may follow, including gangrene and loss of the appendage. Many of the early settlers of Brazil lost their feet to this insect in a dreadful manner. To be infested is referred to as cambado in that country.

The original home of this flea appears to be America (Hoeppli 1969: I69f.). This is based on the evidence of much earlier accounts of the species from tropical America (dating to 1526 by Oviedo) than from

0 0

Post a comment