The word Jiggers has been mentioned in this blog on several occasions. This week we have treated well over 400 persons but the joyful news is that because of prior treatment, the numbers of afflicted patients are fewer.
Jiggers is a sand flea that was brought to Kenya by Europeans and it lives in the Kenyan soil. When unprotected body parts, such as feet, hands, buttocks, and knees are in contact with the soil, the flea attaches itself to the body and burrows into the flesh destroying it as it progresses. Those who are afflicted become unable to walk, feed themselves and of course, they are unable to work. It is a disease of shame in Kenya and the government denies its existence. Jiggers can be controlled by the wearing of shoes and of covering one’s floor with cow dung, which seals the floor. Cow dung quickly loses its odor.
We have met a remarkable man named Johnstone Edaki, who advocated on behalf of the hidden persons with this disease. Over the past two years, we have funded a Jiggers program to control the disease. The afflicted are first washed with soap then soak their infected body parts in potassium
permanganate for 5 minutes. The area is covered with vaseline. The patients are given an insecticide to take home to treat their floors, and instructions on how to seal the floor regularly. Johnstone will do a follow up visit to ensure the house has been properly treated. Last week an older man using an umbrella and a stick hobbled into the clinic looking for treatment. He was infected by fleas from his feet to his waist. Johnstone took this man into a latrine, washed his body, and treated him with the potassium permanganate. It is possible he may not survive but we will continue to follow up with him.
I have posted before and after photos of a child treated last year (he is wearing the red jacket). Today, the child attends school and has use of his hands. He was treated again this week but the difference in his hands and his smile can’t be described except by photos. For this child alone, it was worth coming to Kenya.