Jiggers Eradication Program
The jigger is a sand flea which has become endemic in some regions of Kenya. The main cause is a lack of hygiene and shoes in a dirt-based environment. The jigger embeds itself in the skin, especially under toenails and fingernails, but can infect any area of the body. It causes lesions which are extremely itchy and can become inflamed and infected. These infections often lead to the following secondary infections: gangrene, sepsis, loss of toenails, auto-amputation of toes or fingers. Tetanus, which is fatal, is also a common secondary infection. Jiggers can lead to devastating effects, including difficulty walking, inability to work or carry out daily chores, and transmissible infections such as HIV/AIDS.
To complicate the situation there is a very strong social stigma as people are hesitant to seek treatment. We have seen parents send their children for treatment while they remained home out of shame.
CNFA piloted a jiggers eradication program in 2012. We were shocked by the devastation caused by this parasite. While we have treated a total of 5,725 people, including children, since the programs conception, it only represents a small proportion of those still in need of treatment today. Our trusted community worker in Kenya, Johnstone, who is partnered with us to help expand the program continues to run the program all year long. In addition, homes have been treated and education is provided for prevention of recurring infections.
Thirty six schools have been inspected, treated and teachers educated to foster preventative measures. Thanks to our wonderful community worker, this program continues to work toward the goal of eliminating jiggers in this area of Kenya.